Homecoming. It’s the stuff of poufy dresses, awkward dates and football games in front of roaring alumni.
But at Jefferson High School’s homecoming game last Friday, Oct. 3, when the Democrats trounced Roosevelt’s Roughriders, it was also a mighty display of America’s military—due to rain and a last-minute OK by this week’s Rogue, Principal Cynthia Harris, who let military vehicles escort students in the high school’s halftime festivities.
Jefferson’s cheerleaders and its homecoming court were supposed to ride in open convertibles around the school’s track during halftime. But when it started to rain, Jefferson’s administrators scrambled to find a new arrangement.
And the Oregon Army National Guard was conveniently there to provide one, allowing the school to use two of its military vehicles stationed nearby.
Portland Public Schools’ policy is to give military recruiters and the Oregon National Guard the same access to students as colleges, at the discretion of counselors and principals. But its lack of a policy for after-school activities gave Harris an opening big enough for the two cargo and personnel trucks to drive through.
Jefferson administrators violated no rules, and there was no recruitment at the game. “They’re publicly owned vehicles,” says Matt Shelby, a Portland Public Schools spokesman. “It’s no different than using the city’s trucks.”
But, given the controversy surrounding efforts by military recruiters to get into the schools and the symbolism involved, Jeff’s principal should have said, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Anyone ever heard of tarps? How ’bout umbrellas?