Oregon Teacher Recognized for Excellence in Theater Education at the Tony Awards

Oregon Teacher Recognized for Excellence in Theater Education at the Tony Awards

Local Oregon teacher, cancer survivor, and mother of two, Rachel Harry recently received the Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education, which is given in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University. The award recognizes a K-12 educator who has made a noticeable impact on his or her student’s lives.
Harry, who has taught at Hood River Valley High School for thirty-one years and is also an instructor at the Columbia Gorge Community College, received $10,000 to spend on Hood River’s theater program. She was also awarded a free trip to New York to receive her award at the Tony Awards.
Remarkably, Harry had absolutely no idea she had been nominated for the award. Several of her students, both current and former, collaborated in secret with Hood River teacher, Amirra Malak, to prepare and submit her nomination. They surprised her with her achievement at the high school’s annual Evening of Excellence.
In an interview with CBS, Harry explained her passion for teaching: “I love teenagers. I love everything they’re going through, the drama. They come in as these, basically kids, and they leave as adults.” One student, in her testimony, described Harry as “definitely a mother figure. . . She’s created a second home.” Another student stated that Harry “teaches in a way that we don’t feel like we are being patronized or being talked down to.”

Son of Author Hides $100 Bills in Books Around Portland

Son of Author Hides $100 Bills in Books Around Portland

In the month of March 2017, two local Portlanders separately discovered $100 bills hidden in copies of the book, The Cloud Seekers, in stores around the city. Jeffrey Winton, one of the lucky discoverers, found the money in the book at the Goodwill located on Southeast 52nd Avenue. Along with the money came a small note that stated:

“This book is free. If you need the money, please keep it. If you don’t, please give it to someone who does. You are not a Leftover. None of us are!”

The note was signed by Dustin Banks, a fictional character from the book.

Initially, the person behind these generous actions remained anonymous; however, the author of The Cloud Seekers, James Zerndt, eventually admitted when asked by KGW News that he had hidden the money along with his five-year old son, Jack, who had come up with the idea while watching Willy Wonka and the Charlie Factory.
In a tweet, Zerndt exclaimed “I’ll just say that my five year-old’s favorite movie is Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. He says everyone deserves a golden ticket!” Jack later said in an interview, “I had an idea from ‘Willy Wonka” when we watched it that I think everybody should get a golden ticket. That’s not fair if only five people do. So my dad had the idea of going to put the money in his books to help people get money.”
Money was placed in five books. So far, only two of the lucky books have been found; three books stuffed with $100 bills are still waiting to be discovered.

First Coloring Book Appears that is Geared Toward People with Alzheimer’s

First Coloring Book Appears that is Geared Toward People with Alzheimer’s

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, over 5 million people are currently facing the hardships of Alzheimer’s in the United States. The illness corrodes a victim’s memory, making it incredibly difficult and frustrating to connect and communicate with family and friends.
Maria Shriver, the NBC News special anchor, after witnessing her father struggle with Alzheimer’s until his death in 2011, was inspired to create a coloring book geared specifically to those suffering from the disease. In an interview with TODAY, she stated:

“When I would go visit my dad as his disease progressed, I had fewer and fewer things that I could do with him. I could take a walk with him, but a lot of times he didn’t’ want to walk. I played puzzles with him and sometimes drew on pieces of paper.”

The goal of such a coloring book is to help calm patients and caregivers together, thus facilitating better connections between family and friends. Images in the book are inspired from Shriver’s visits to nursing homes. The product also includes tips for caregivers within its pages that are based on conversations with doctors and families.
Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzhiemer’s Prevention Clinic, explained that “the person with Alzheimer’s may not be able to communicate his or her thoughts as well as they used to or may not remember what happened to the conversation 10 minutes ago, but they’re able to express themselves through art – through drawing.” The emergence of this coloring book could help to fulfill this unmet need for better communication.
Shriver noted that Alzheimer’s is an intense, frightening experience, and she ensured the coloring book focused on happy, hopeful, themes through numerous colors and images of butterflies and happy people.
“I’m really hopeful this is filling a void and a need and will change people’s lives,” she stated. Shriver also considered how the book might have changed her relationship with her father near the end of his life. “I think it would have brought laughter, it would have enabled us to do something together.”
The coloring book was released in June, which is considered Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month.

Dozens of Students Receive First Bike from Local Architect

Dozens of Students Receive First Bike from Local Architect

Monday morning, dozens of kindergarten students at Rosa Parks Elementary were lovingly gifted their first ever bicycle, just in time for the warm weather. As soon as the students entered the classroom, their tired faces transformed to exude their excitement.
David Yandell, Portland native, recognizes the importance of helping one’s own community in any way possible. He has long been raising money for the Portland community, raising over a hundred thousand dollars in the past twenty years. One of his self-given jobs is to organize bike donations every year, this year inspiring James Meyer, local architect, to donate and distribute.
Meyer recognized the gift of a bike to be a gift of joy to a child who may not get the same chance without such a donation. “There’s something about it, it’s an equalizer, [a bike] puts you into a group, an opportunity to putz around at the park, ride around with others, and make friends…There’s something about a new bike that has a certain simplicity.”
He saw that this simplicity grows community and creates friendship through unifying activities. Bicycles help cultivate active out-of-door summers, which many parents wish their children could have. Meyer further emphasized the joy which he gained through the donation and the importance of seeking out opportunities to impact other’s lives. He encouraged any capable parties to do likewise.
This gift of bikes has the great potential of leading to a summer of joy in community.

New Oregon Law Changes Car Seat Requirements

New Oregon Law Changes Car Seat Requirements

Oregon governor Kate Brown recently signed a new mandate into law that requires children age two and under to ride in rear-facing car seats. This requirement previously ended when children turned one. Anyone who fails to follow this mandate will be fined up to $250. Oregon is the sixth state to implement rear-facing car seats for children two and under.

In an interview, Dr. Bend Hoffman explained the dangers of young children sitting in forward-facing car seats. “What’s going to happen is they’re going to be thrown forward, the arms and legs are going to go forward, head and neck forward. What’s going to stop the child are the harness straps. All sorts of horrible things can happen from paralysis to death.” Dr. Hoffman is a professor of pediatrics at OHSU’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.

When the car seat is rear-facing during an accident, it absorbs the shock and the child’s spine, head and neck stay aligned.

“We know that kids rear-facing, between the age of one and two, are over five times less likely to be injured in a crash compared to kids facing forward,” said Dr. Hoffman.

Parents like Adrianna Morales are grateful for the change in the car seat laws. “I’m happy, really happy. I think it’s the best choice they made for our little ones, we need to protect them.”

Doernbecher and Legacy Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland provide free car seat installations by appointment.

Harvard Law Article Declares that Unborn Children are “Constitutional Persons”

Harvard Law Article Declares that Unborn Children are “Constitutional Persons”

The Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy recently published an article which argues that, under the fourteenth amendment of the US constitution, unborn children are considered persons. In the article, Harvard law student Joshua Craddock challenges both pro-choice philosophy and pro-life interpretation of the Constitution. He sums up both as “constitutionally unsound.”

Craddock looks at the Supreme Court’s pro-choice decisions since the 1973 case Roe v. Wade and their supposed refusal to decide whether or not an unborn child is a human being with human rights. He states that the justices considered other matters to be more important than this decision and thus decided to take no action on the matter. Craddock also examines the idea through the lens of pro-life legal scholars, who either claim that the Constitution doesn’t say anything about abortion at all or that it is important to consider the issue from an “originalist” perspective, which advocates that people should look at what the Constitution meant to those who wrote it and interpret it accordingly.

Craddock then argues that people on both sides of the abortion issue misinterpret the Constitution. He uses the fourteenth amendment to prove that the Constitution’s original meaning includes an unborn child’s right to life. It says that no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”  He then provides three pieces of historical context to back up his argument: what the word “person” meant at the time, the anti-abortion laws of that period, and what the people who wrote the amendment said about it.

Craddock concludes that states that allow abortion violate the Constitution.  An example of this statement is if a state allows abortion but prosecutes murderers of other age demographics, it denies the unborn the equal protection of the laws. “Congress or the courts must intervene,” he writes. “The Fourteenth Amendment was to be a new birth of freedom for all human beings.”