Newberg Booster Club also hosting a 'Stuff the Bus' school supply drive at Tiger Tailgate event Sept. 1 to help stock the shelves

Newberg High School greatly expanded its resource room this summer in an effort to better support its students, but what has staff most excited is that it wasn't really a school initiative at all.

While the high school and principal Kyle Laier were open to the idea and provided the extra space, it has been a group of parents that have been the driving force behind the project.SETH GORDON - (From left) Grace Gaunt, Mark Brown and Holly Gaunt help stock the new student resource room at Newberg High School. Holly Gaunt is leading the group of parent volunteers that established and will staff the room this fall. 

"I see this beautiful partnership starting to take place where it's not this group doing that project or that group doing this project, but how can we as a community, as parents, as a school, come together to support all of our kids," NHS Activities Director Mark Brown said. "If we can find a way to do that, then good things are going to come out of that and we're going to see bigger stuff happen in the academic world or in other areas of the school."

Leading the way have been parents Emily Klumak and Holly Gaunt, who have helped spearhead similar projects as members of the parent group at Chehalem Valley Middle School.

As president of that group, Klumak helped establish a parent-led resource room at CVMS two years ago which provided the model not only for the NHS resource room and another on the way at Mountain View Middle School, but created the blueprint for parents to take the lead on projects that are needed and remove a burden from the shoulders of teachers and staff.

"It's also creating a structure where everyone can contribute a little to create a large impact for students versus a few people doing everything and getting burned out or not getting enough community involved," Klumak said. "The schools need to see and feel that a lot of people care. These rooms are foundational in that work."

Gaunt took over the lead role of the CVMS resource room last year and will do so again for the new NHS resource room, which had been much smaller and had fallen to homeless liaison Shyla Jasper and nurse Annie Berger to run.

The room, which features a variety of lightly used clothes and shoes, school supplies and non-perishable food items, will be available for students to use freely between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

The format will not only allow students to pick out what they need themselves, but requires only five to seven parent volunteers giving one to two hours of their time each week.

"The experience that I and volunteers had for two years is kids really are just taking what they need and they are also taking maybe what their brother needs or their mom needs, so they're free to take things for other people, but the room is for them," Klumak said. "It's their resource within their school provided by a partnership of the parent and school community."

Gaunt added that it's also an easy way for parents to get involved, which is often a challenge at the high school level. She's been taken aback by how many people even without children at the high school or in the district have shown interest in helping to back the project, either with material donations or as volunteers.

"So having a clear mission and building pathways for people to connect to that people feel like they are extremely welcome is where community starts to shift and feel a lot more empowered to be a part of the school," Klumak said.

In addition to pledging a portion of the proceeds from concessions, the Newberg Booster Club has joined the partnership and will hold a "Stuff the Bus" supply drive during its upcoming Tiger Tailgate event prior to the home football game versus Barlow Sept. 1.

Backpacks have been identified as the biggest need, so any family donating one at the event will receive a free ticket to the game. Other items of need include pens and pencils, note cards, dividers, three-inch binders, tissue paper, highlighters, and reams of printer and college-lined paper, but any and all donations will be accepted.

The bus will be open from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 1, but any supply, non-perishable food or clothing donation can also be dropped off at the main office from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

"The district profile is over 40 percent of our high schoolers and middle schoolers are living near or below the poverty line," Klumak said. "So if there are some kids coming to school without a bra to wear, without socks, without underwear, without food, we can solve the problems on site instantly."

Brown pointed out that the resource room is not only a tangible example of the school district's "All Means All" call for equity in serving all students, but also epitomizes the idea of collective responsibility that district leaders are trying to foster in the community.

"We have to take care of all of our kids, but then to partner with that this idea that it's not just the parents' job and we can't rely just on our community businesses and it's not just the school's job either," Brown said. "It's all of us. It's this idea of collective responsibility. I think the new leaders at the booster club are really taking that mindset."

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