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A6 • Friday, February 14, 2020 | Seaside Signal | SeasideSignal.com
Reaching out to homeless students
SEEN FROM SEASIDE
he Seaside School District was among
the volunteers, businesses and non-
proﬁ ts at Project Homeless Connect
on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at the Seaside Civic and
Convention Center. Seaside High School
assistant principal Jason Boyd and staff from
the school district participated in outreach to
the county’s homeless population, particu-
larly families with school-age children. We
spoke with Boyd about the district’s goals
Q: What role is the school district play-
ing here today?
Boyd: We’re working with all the
schools in Clatsop County trying to work
with the state of Oregon. We have to cre-
ate a community improvement plan every
year to show what we’re doing to reach out
especially to the underserved portions of the
population. How we can best help the popu-
lation that is here today is our goal.
Q: How is homelessness deﬁ ned by the
Boyd: Homeless as deﬁ ned through the
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act,
a federal program. It’s called Title X.
Q: Do you keep track of homeless
Boyd: In our district we have roughly 72.
Q: Out of how many?
Boyd: Seventy-two out of 1,600 in the
Q: That seems high!
Boyd: That’s very high. And those are
kids that we know of.
We have students that range from living
in a car to couch-surﬁ ng, living with a fam-
ily for a few weeks. Then something hap-
pens and they go to another family, and live
with them for awhile, then another family.
I worked with a student who had been with
14 different schools before their ﬁ rst year in
Q: How do you work with other agencies
to meet the needs of homeless students?
Boyd: Being here today is hopefully
helping us to make some connections with
some folks to see what barriers we can help
Our big thing is working with other
school districts. How can we best serve this
population, our homeless population? How
can we best help them so that those kids can
access the best education on a regular basis.
High school is hard enough,
but trying to do high school
and ﬁ guring out where your
next meal is going to come
from makes it really diﬃ cult.
Seaside’s Shelby Treick, Trevor Cave and Jason Boyd, with Craig Hoppes, Astoria school superintendent.
Q: How do homeless kids cope with all
Boyd: High school is hard enough, but
trying to do high school and ﬁ guring out
where your next meal is going to come from
makes it really difﬁ cult. Homeless kids lose
some of the opportunities we want kids to
It’s really hard for (homeless) students
to see a path to graduation. “Do I have the
stamina to deal with the roadblocks and the
frustrations that are going to be in my way
to get to that goal?”
Q: Can you point to success stories?
Boyd: We had a student living classiﬁ ed
as homeless, mom not in the picture, dad
not in the picture. As a freshman and soph-
omore, that particular student was a real
struggle to deal with in the regular setting.
He didn’t like rules. (He thought) every
adult was out to get him. Through working
and trying to create a relationship, he turned
it around. He graduated high school. He
went to community college and graduated,
and went on to go to an optometry school.
Q: Success is within the reach of anyone.
Boyd: It is. It’s just how we can remove
the barriers so they can see it too. Every
human at some point ﬁ gures out,“I don’t
want this anymore now I’m focused on get-
ting there.” We usually equate that with pas-
sion. How do we get the kids to ﬁ nd their
passion so they’ll go and work extra hard to
do that? We can get to those points if we can
remove some of the barriers that are there.
And sometimes they’re perceived barriers.
Q: What role do parents play?
Boyd: (As a parent) your memories of
school might be really negative. If you only
know school was not successful for you,
it’s hard to take your child and really sup-
port him on a path. It takes a lot of think-
ing about it as a parent to create that oppor-
tunity to support your child with what they
need to go through.
Q: At what point does the district
Boyd: A lot of that comes has to do with
that transition eighth grade to freshman
Part of the district’s strategic plan is
improving graduation rates. The Univer-
sity of Chicago has done a big study over
the years. And the one thing that they found,
among data that really works, is if freshmen
kids are on track to graduate at the end of
their freshman year, they’re exponentially
more likely to graduate. You’ve got to have
academic success that freshman year. Really
building with our population to make that
freshman year academically focused. That’s
a very critical period.
We’ll do a home visit before school even
starts. Just an introduction, “Hey, I’m Jason,
if you need me for anything, just give a
Q: What about student cliques and how
kids interact with each other?
Boyd: We deﬁ nitely have that demo-
graphic: kids driving brand-new cars to
school, and then we have kids who have
been wearing the same jeans and hoodie
sweatshirts for the past month.
Q: How do you bring those kids
Boyd: Well, a lot of that has to do with
removing ﬁ nancial barriers. Let’s say we
have a sporting event. We get all kids to
come to the sporting event. If we have a
dance, we’re going to remove that ﬁ nancial
Q: Cinderella’s Closet?
Boyd: Cinderella’s Closet is a great
example. For homecoming this year, we
took seven or eight kids up there, and they
got dresses and shoes, they were all ready
to go. They weren’t going to be able to
afford that stuff or to be able to have that
Having those positive experiences shows
the world, the school cares about you, so
let’s give it another try. We know you’ve
been frustrated, but let’s give it another try.
A trip to the mausoleum, and the door opens
thought I’d let a little time lapse before
I shared this tale. It’s a strange tale to be
sure, and I promise 100% true.
It happened the ﬁ rst weekend in Decem-
ber. I was spending time with new friends.
They’re twins, their names both start with
an “N” and they live in Gearhart. In the
interest of privacy given the story I’m about
to share, I’ll keep their actual names out of
it. Some of you may know them anyway
as they’re quite memorable, even famous.
They’ve hailed for a long time from around
these parts. I’ve heard they’ve painted the
interiors of half or more of the homes in the
The twins picked me up just after 1 p.m.
and we headed out on Highway 26, our
destination the horse farm where one of
the twin’s daughter and her husband live.
The young folks have three horses and are
improving their property. They recently
converted an outbuilding to a luxurious sta-
ble, and have installed a lot of fence. Next
to come is a round pen. It’s been awhile
since I’ve been around horses, so this was a
On the drive home, the twins casually
asked if I was up for an adventure. I said,
sure, why not, and we traveled on Highway
101 through Seaside and past Gearhart until
we got to the Ocean View cemetery in War-
renton. On the way, the twins told me that
once upon a time a long time ago they were
employed at the cemetery as groundskeep-
ers and gravediggers.
The Ocean View cemetery is part of
Astoria’s parks department. It opened in
1898. It’s vast, encompassing 100 acres,
only half of it currently developed. There
are 16,000 internments at the cemetery,
many with lake views. If you like, you can
make arrangements for it to be your ﬁ nal
The door was locked and then it opened. Of course we went in.
My head was on a swivel as we pulled
inside the gates. For a graveyard, it’s pretty
awesome. The twins said they hadn’t set
foot on the property in awhile, but they had
memories galore. We parked and walked,
and moved the car and parked and walked
again. The day was relatively mild and
the twins were excited to visit a bunch
of graves. They remembered people they
loved and graves they dug and pointed out
to me special things. They showed me an
area dedicated to infant graves. That was
We got back in the car and drove around
“Is that the mausoleum?” I said as an
imposing stone ediﬁ ce hove into view.
The mausoleum, which is technically
known as the Ocean View Abbey, was
established by the Portland Mausoleum
Company in 1916. It cost $30,000 at the
John D. Bruijn
time to build. It was designed by Ellis F.
Lawrence, who was the designer of every
building erected on the University of Ore-
gon campus between 1916 and 1939. The
Abbey is a formidable structure, but has
been vulnerable to both the elements and
vandals over the years.
“Hey, look at this,” I said to the twins
as I stood in front of the monolithic Abbey
doors. “You can see where someone tried
breaking in.” As I was talking, I was ﬁ d-
dling with the front door, jiggling the giant
handle. It was most deﬁ nitely locked.
One of the twins stood beside me and
examined a place where it appeared the
door was crow-barred.
“It’s locked, right?” she said.
“Absolutely,” I replied, giving the handle
To my surprise and quite honestly, hor-
ror, the door swung open at my touch.
Of course we went inside.
The interior of the mausoleum was cold,
very cold, but that didn’t stop the twins
from their exploration. They spent the next
15 minutes reading and discussing every
name carved in granite. Most of the dates of
the entombed were before 1950.
I noticed while we were inside there was
no cell service.
Later, after we were safely in the twins’
car, I thought how we might have been
stuck inside a tomb. That door swung open,
but it just as easily have swung shut. When
I shut it as we were leaving, it deﬁ nitely
“That door was locked and then it
opened,” I said to the twins.
They agreed that is what happened.
“Do you think the dead are bored and
thought it would be funny to open the door
and invite us in? I get the feeling they don’t
get many visitors,” I said.
The twins laughed.
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