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Administration putting an emphasis on creating opportunities for students to engage and simply enjoy themselves at school

SETH GORDON - Sophomore Asher Tatsumi takes a selfie with several classmates during the Tiger Tailgate event prior to Newberg High School's home football game Sept. 8. Many staff and students are reporting that the school is off to a great start this fall in part because of numerous efforts to create fun experiences for students. "We're going to be here no matter what, so why not just make it good?" Tatsumi said.

Coming off a turbulent spring in which major budget cuts eroded trust between parents and district leadership, the administration at Newberg High School is focusing a lot of its energy on improving the climate and culture on campus.

That effort encompasses staff and parents too, but when it comes to their primary customers, the students, it pretty much boils down to having more fun at school.

"If we can find whatever little way to make being at school fun, if we can engage them in good stuff and they know that will continue to happen, the learning will follow," assistant principal Mark Brown said. "I think we're just trying to create those little fun opportunities, those engagement opportunities, for students. Kids are amazingly resilient."

In the first few weeks, the administration, staff, student leaders and parents have tried numerous things to lighten the mood, ranging from a goofy staff lip sync video to the Newberg Boosters holding a bonfire following the home cross-country meet Oct. 3 as a kickoff for homecoming week.

The video, which can be viewed in the Sept. 9 edition of the "This Week in Newberg Nation" email newsletter through the district's mobile app, begins with a parody of the famous Saturday Night Live "More Cowbell" sketch.

The new admin team of lead principal Tami Erion and assistant principals Tim Burke, Andy Debois, Tony Buckner and Brown played the role of rock band Blue Oyster Cult, with new interim superintendent Joe Morelock playing the producer role originally brought to life by actor Christopher Walken. It then transitions into a lip sync video featuring a lot of the NHS staff and was a big hit with students at welcome back assemblies.

"They laugh at the video and they're excited about that kind of stuff," Debois said. "They see the teachers in a real human element."

As a member of the Associated Student Body leadership team, sophomore Asher Tatsumi took part in some of the planning over the summer and was confident then it was going to be a great year. So far, he thinks that's been the case.

"The first week was probably the most fun I've ever had at Newberg High School," he said. "I feel like last year we were all separated, but now we're more like one. We're all participating in things, which just makes it more fun for everybody."

And while not all students are as involved or enthusiastic as Tatsumi, he believes there is an attitude that a lot of his peers seem to be sharing.

"We want to have the best experience here and it's nice to know that other people want the same thing," he said. "We're going to be here no matter what, so why not just make it good?"

Erion believes that the students are the most resilient ones at the high school.

"They tend to be the innovative and creative thinkers when it comes to challenges like this," she said. "I think we have students who share their voice about what's happening and how they believe the district should move forward."

Brown, who has been the boys basketball coach as well as the activities director the past few years, picked up some assistant principal duties this school year, but remains connected to the student body. He agrees about the students' ability to bounce back after a tough spring and is optimistic about the coming school year.

"They are somewhat protected from some of the political, business and higher-up mess, which is nice," Brown said. "I think we have some of the best kids here in Newberg. They're respectful to each other. They're courteous to each other. At the end of the day, they just want to have fun."

School briefs

High school bonfire set for Oct. 3 in Newberg

As a kickoff to Homecoming Week, the Newberg Boosters are hosting a bonfire from 7 to 9 p.m. Oct. 3 behind the Newberg High School tennis courts. The event will follow the home cross-country meet versus Sherwood and Forest Grove, which begins at 4:30 p.m.

The NHS cheerleaders and band will perform and speakers will include interim superintendent Joe Morelock, athletic director Tim Burke, assistant principal Mark Brown and football coach Kevin Hastin.

For more information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Volunteer at CCAP Day

Newberg High School is encouraging parents and community members to join in with students on service projects on campus and at other district schools for College and Career Access Pathways (CCAP) Day Oct. 10. While some students will be taking the PSAT, SAT or ASVAB career assessment, others will be working in teams from 8:40 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

In order to participate, individuals must register as volunteers through the school district and are encouraged to start the process as soon as possible. To begin, visit www.newberg.k12.or.us/district/volunteer. For more information, email Mark Brown at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tiger Manufacturing open house set

Tiger Manufacturing, the student-operated machine shop at Newberg High School, will host an open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 5. The event will also showcase the school's welding, integrated design, computer-assisted drafting/computer assisted manufacturing, robotics, horticulture, drama, FFA, culinary, graphic arts, band, orchestra, choir, drama, art and ceramics programs, as well as the New Forest program. Students will lead visitors through the school, direct parking, run presentations and provide interactive activities and displays for visitors. For more information, email Hadley Massey at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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