This post was originally published on the Roosevelt Alumni Association Website, by Jinnett Powell, St. Johns resident and Roosevelt High School PTA President.
Thanksgiving weekend, and I wish all who read this a relaxing (we can hope, right) and bonding time with friends and family. Neither my husband nor I am from N. Portland (I’m a New Englander, and he’s a Sheboyanite), yet St. Johns is home. It wasn’t always that way for me. In fact I’ve spent most of the past 15 years living here feeling like an interloper. We never intended to stay longer than a few years before moving back to be closer to family, but we got stuck. Not in a bad way. More in the way of “not wanting to leave.” We were growing roots even though I continued to always feel like an outsider.
We were both drawn to North Portland because the neighborhoods have a distinct sense of place - a rich history, full of their own small town quirks that made us want to be part of them. I’ve always made a point to be involved in my community, but many of my efforts took me outside of St. Johns. Until, that is, my son’s sophomore year at Roosevelt when I join the newly starting PTSA. In doing so, I got the chance to work with alumni, and quickly came to appreciate the dedication and passion that many of you hold for Roosevelt, it’s history and the success of its students. Helping host Homecomings pre-game celebrations that included the pep-rally parade and tailgate BBQ made me feel like part of the local community in a way that I never had before.
The Parade, organized by Mike Verbout and the St. Johns Center for Opportunity created a magical mix of community groups, such as The Beat Goes On, playing and marching along side RHS students in the Roosevelt Rider Elite Dance Team and Roosevelt Jazz Band, surrounded by Future Riders from local youth groups and neighborhood schools starting as young as preschool. It highlighted how the Roosevelt community’s roots begin way before and extend long after those 4 years of high school. The tailgate party, sponsored by the RHS Alumni Association and hosted by the PTSA was a similar, collaborative success in which alumni and parent volunteers fed over 1000 students, families, and guests!
The Alumni Association’s vision for the tailgate, started the previous year in 2016 in lieu of the Alumni Annual Dinner, was to provide an all-inclusive event that would bring together the greater community to celebrate Roosevelt - at no personal cost! When my family attended last year, I was inspired, and knew that I wanted to do my part to ensure the Tailgate became an annual event by getting PTSA to join in hosting. Thanks to generous donations from local businesses including Franz Bakery, Tim’s Chips, Willamette Valley Meat Co., New Seasons, as well as the support from the Alumni Association and SJCO, we were able to continue the tradition of a community Tailgate BBQ - free to all!
The entire event, as well as the student athlete's performance on the field, brought Roosevelt some much deserved public admiration. I overheard visitors young and old alike, saying “wow, what a great event! What a great place - it feels just the way a homecoming should!” I went to bed tired- but already dreaming up ideas for Homecoming 2018! I also realized that for the first time, I didn’t feel like I just lived here, I belonged here.
The RHS PTA is hosting a fundraiser to raise money for the 2018 Senior Grad Party this Friday, December 1st at 45th Parallel Wine Shop in St. Johns from 6-9 pm! Free admission and snacks.