Look around the Morrow County School District and you’ll see more than just our teachers and staff having a positive impact on kids. You’ll find an entire community supporting and encouraging our students with their time and resources, making sure they have abundant educational and growth opportunities.

I couldn’t be more grateful for this atmosphere of collaboration in Morrow County. It gives our students the opportunity to thrive and sets a model for responsible citizenship and giving back.

This collaboration takes many forms. Sometimes it’s a local grant to make a school improvement, like the Boardman Chamber of Commerce’s recent funding for new equipment in the Sam Boardman Elementary gymnasium.

Sometimes it’s a community partner looking out for the safety of our students, like the City of Irrigon’s grant-funded walking path along Division Street to give kids a safe path to get to both schools in the community.

Sometimes it’s a club like the Riverside FFA Advisory Board raising funds to purchase a greenhouse kit for the high school FFA program or the North Morrow County Arts Foundation staging professional theatrical performances in Irrigon and Boardman to expose younger students to the arts.

And sometimes it’s a whole group of generous citizens and businesses donating to a cause, like the countless individuals giving to the Heppner Backpack Food Program to provide take-home weekend meals for kids who need them.

The examples are too numerous to list in full detail here, but in both small ways and large, the community steps up time and again to help. These projects enrich the educational and development process and wouldn’t be possible without collaboration.

I’m particularly grateful for our ongoing partnerships with the Port of Morrow to create the Amazon Web Services Think Big Space at the SAGE Center.

This project brings cutting-edge science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs to our students. We’ve been excited to put this space into practice, and this fall our kids have been visiting the labs and had specialist educators come to their classrooms. It’s a next-level educational opportunity that not all school districts have.

At the high schools it’s supplemented by initiatives like the Student Internship Program, which brings together business partners in Morrow County to allow students to explore career opportunities through paid internships and earn credits all while building their résumés.

 After all, the future is what it’s all about. We’re always keeping in mind the kind of place we hope Morrow County will be decades down the line and how we can help our young people become the leaders they’re meant to be.

The COVID-19 pandemic will be far in the rearview by then. But the growth and development opportunities our students are experiencing now will stick with them. I’m extremely proud of our class of 2021 for finishing strong and maintaining a 92% graduation rate, even under difficult circumstances.

Once again, I want to thank all of the community partners who make this possible and give the students of the Morrow County School District the best opportunity to succeed.


Dirk Dirksen is the superintendent of the Morrow County School District.