Recognition for Inclusion

On Thursday Bend High School received national recognition from the Special Olympics for the schools efforts in providing inclusive sports and activities for its students with and without disabilities.

Bend Senior High School is one of just 52 schools nationwide to be named a Special Olympics Unified Champion School this year and one of roughly 80 school across the county that have received this award ever.

Central Oregon Daily’s Anyssa Bohanan was at the school as they unveiled a new banner congratulating their efforts and got a special message from a famous Oregon athlete.

First Step: a suicide prevention app

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10-24 year olds in the state of Oregon and after two young suicides recently rocked the Central Oregon community, the Bend-La Pine School District pushed up the release date of an app that they’re hoping could save lives.

In light of recent events involving the deaths of two students at Summit and Redmond high schools earlier this month the Bend-La Pine School District is aiming to prevent any other young adult from taking their own life. Just before students left for the winter break, the school district rolled out the appFirst Step,” which aims to help students dealing with stressful situations, depressive or suicidal thoughts.

“First Step” provides resources for students who may need an outlet for discussion by connecting them to non-profits like lines for life, which allows students to communicate face to face, thought text or e-mail.

It also provides a link to “youth line,” a non-profit that connects students with other students to discuss problems they may currently be struggling with someone who understands. The app also provides students with tips on what to do when you’re feeling down as well as local organizations that provide free counseling.

Bend La-Pine schools’ Julianne Repman says that the school district wants “to open the door, and if someone has questions about suicide, we want to let them know they’re cared for and that they’ve been heard, and help them find assistance through a trusted adult or through one of the resources you’ll find here on this app.”

The school district says that the application was added to all iPads issued to around 11,000 sixth through 12th grade students. Students without a school-issued iPad and the general public can access First Step through the website firststeporegon.org.

OSU-Cascades Hopes for Expansion

State lawmakers denied Oregon State University-Cascades the funding to expand the Bend campus last summer, which came as a shock to officials and the school donors who had been working to make a case for a new academic building.

However, there is new hope for expansion after governor Kate Brown requested 39 million dollars for the university in the upcoming legislative session.

The OSU-Cascades campus opened in 2016 but the university’s goal of expanding it’s facilities took a hit last summer when the state allocated the university just $9.5 million of the $69.5 million OSU-Cascades had hoped for.

“We’re asking in the 2018 session for $39 million to build the next academic building because that’s the most critical thing,” said Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades. “if we don’t have space for students to be in classrooms and for faculty to have office space we simply can’t keep growing to meet the demands of the region.”

Late Friday, governor Brown announced an $88 million-dollar package of supplemental spending she wants for the Oregon higher education system and OSU-Cascades is slotted for $39 million of that if approved.

However, within hours of Friday’s announcement, at least one lawmaker was signaling his disapproval of the plan. Democratic representative Paul Evans of Monmouth County tweeted “There is still no logical rationale for added capacity at OSU-Cascades.”

House speaker Tina Kotek expressed a similar sentiment in July while explaining why only $9 million of the $1.3 billion dollar state bond package went to OSU-Cascades.