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Hillsboro trio visits White House

Three representatives from Hillsboro attended the White House “College Opportunity Day of Action” Dec. 4 in Washington, D.C.

Steve Larson, assistant superintendent of the Hillsboro School District; Deanna Palm, president of the Greater Hillsboro Area Chamber of Commerce and chairwoman of the Portland Community College Board of Directors; and Aron Carleson, president of the Hillsboro City Council and executive director of the Hillsboro Schools Foundation joined President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

Carleson tweeted several times during the conference, which included addresses by the president, the first lady and the vice president, as well as panel discussions moderated by Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

“Love when a panelist says something that makes the room murmur,” Carelson tweeted. “Let’s absorb the dialog and put to practice!” and “Suggestion was just made from Albany, N.Y., can’t go to prom unless fill out FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).”

The opportunity for the three to participate in the conference came about through Brooke Nova, the Hillsboro School District’s College and Career Pathways (CCP) coordinator.

Nova attended a “Reach Higher” conference in November. Reach Higher is Michelle Obama’s initiative to inspire youth to seek and complete education after high school. At the conference, Nova wrote a proposal for the Palm, Larson and Carleson to attend the College Opportunity Day.

According to Nova, the Hillsboro Chamber, PCC, the city of Hillsboro and the Hillsboro Schools Foundation all partner with the school district in various capacities to help students in the district prepare for college and careers.

Palm said the trio brought back “really great ideas” from the day-long conference. Palm is member of the school district’s CCP steering committee, and pointed out that the Hillsboro School District was the only K-12 district from Oregon represented at the conference.

“We heard about collective impact,” Palm said. “Working with multiple organizations …with the same agenda, shared responsibility,” she added, is something the school district, chamber, city, PCC is already doing.

Participants at the College Opportunity Day were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion; creating K-16 partnerships focused on college readiness; investing in high school counselors as part of the first lady’s “Reach Higher” initiative; and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The district’s goals are to ensure all seniors have earned at least nine college credits upon graduation; to increase enrollment in four-year institutions from 40 percent of the senior class by 2025; and to increase enrollment in two-year institutions to 40 percent of the senior class by 2025, in accordance with Oregon’s 40-40-20 goal.

During the summit, the president announced new steps to support and expand college opportunities, including a $10 million commitment to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve college access for low-income students.

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