Jan. 11, 2019 — Leap Day may come just once every four years, but Siuslaw School District is making Feb. 29 even more special by hosting a region-wide event for families and organizations. The Siuslaw Education Expo, designed to showcase educational opportunities that exist for people of all ages in the Siuslaw area, will take place on that Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Siuslaw High School (SHS), 2975 Oak St.
The idea for the expo was generated last year in a Siuslaw School District Facilities Advisory Committee meeting.
“We were discussing ways to help bring the schools and the community closer together,” said Bob Orr, who serves on the committee and leads the ASPIRE program for both Siuslaw and Mapleton school districts. “This has been a very generous community in a lot of ways to the kids and schools, particularly in the form of scholarships, where our community is tremendously generous. … We are always looking for ways to not only connect with but give back to the community.”
What started as more of a tour of classrooms and student projects soon morphed into the chance to highlight not only the Siuslaw and Mapleton schools, but the other area organizations who serve the families and youth of the Siuslaw region.
“We realized what we could really do with this is have the school be a gathering point for lots of different ways that organizations educate in the community,” Orr said.
More than 60 organizations have already signed on to partner with or attend the event.
“There was a lot of interest,” he added. “It’s something that hasn’t been done before, to our knowledge.”
Plus, Orr said there are still several groups he hasn’t approached about including, but would be more than welcome to contact him about participating.
“We have a lot of different organizations that we hope will be of interest to the whole community — every age group, every constituency,” he said. “We’re having all of these organizations all in one place, at one time, and people can just wander and talk to representatives.”
Groups from both within and without the region will attend, including the expected child-focused groups such as Boys and Girls Club of Western Lane County, Shoreline Christian School, Wildflower Montessori School, Head Start and area preschools, and that less expected groups, namely, the Siuslaw Rod & Gun Club, would also set up a table, possibly with safety demonstrations.
“They’ll likely be talking about gun safety, which is very educational and very important,” Orr said.
The partners also include regional organizations, such as Siuslaw Public Library, the Siuslaw Vision, Western Lane Ambulance District and others who serve the entire population, including the upriver communities. Orr also hopes to add more Mapleton representation.
“As the ASPIRE program has expanded to Mapleton High School, we have more connections,” he said. “The two communities are pretty closely linked in a lot of ways.”
Dunes City is also a partner, and the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians will be in attendance.
“We really hope that we get a large turnout of people from the whole community who just come to see what the educational opportunities are,” Orr said. “A lot of these clubs and organizations might not be in the forefront of everybody’s minds, but I’m hoping that people will be able to come in and find an organization they are particularly interested in and sign up to join or participate in some way.”
The expo will feature tables set up for up to 75 organizations in the SHS commons, gymnasium and library. Additional rooms will be open throughout the school as students help lead tours.
The middle of the expo will feature comments from several community notables, such as Siuslaw Superintendent Andy Grzeskowiak, Mapleton Superintendent Jodi O’Mara, Florence Mayor Joe Henry and Dunes City Mayor Bob Forsythe. Other dignitaries may also attend.
Throughout the event will be performances by Children’s Repertory of Oregon Workshops (CROW), Coastal Fitness and the music programs of Siuslaw School District. The Siuslaw culinary class will make cookies and there will be activities for youth who attend.
“We want people to bring their children,” Orr said. “It’s definitely a family event, it’s definitely a community-wide event. It certainly seems like people have caught on, just from the number of sign ups.”
Vehicles from emergency service groups will be out front, as well as the operating station of the Central Oregon Coast Amateur Radio Club.
Students will be involved in a number of ways, especially as the National Honor Society at SHS has been working to help plan the event. Other student participants will come from Leadership, Rotary Interact and Key Club. In addition, Eddie Mielke’s Business/Design Crew at SHS will make the Siuslaw Education Expo signs and posters that will soon be visible around town.
In the next month and a half, Orr will visit more community groups to garner interest about the Siuslaw Education Expo and the other educational causes he champions.
“People said, ‘You’ll get involved in lots of things, and then you’ll have to scale back,’” he said. “My problem is, I can’t scale back. It’s too much fun.”
The participants seem to think so, too, as more groups confirmed their attendance this week.
“We want the whole community there,” Orr said. “The education expo is experimental, as we’ve not tried it before, but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun and just a great way to have people come together about education.”
For more information about the expo, visit https://bit.ly/siuslaweducationexpo (must enter whole address; case sensitive) or facebook.com/siuslawexpo.
Orr can be contacted at [email protected]