Nathan Nañez, a senior at The Dalles High School, attended a lobby day in Salem with three other students — two from Coquille School District and one from Redmond High School — to meet with legislators and discuss state funding in education.

“It was interesting to hear their (the students’) sides of how funding has impacted their lives,” said Nañez. “I approached the topic with regards to facilities and teaching size, and they focused more on how funding can impact students’ mental health.”

Nañez and the other students met with seven legislators, including the representatives from District 30 which The Dalles resides in — Senator Bentz and Representative Bonham.

“Everyone we met agreed on one thing: there is a need to fix Oregon schools budget, however where we asked questions is ‘where is the money going to come from?’” said Nañez.

The intent of lobby day is to provide an opportunity to students and community members to speak on issues that concern them, and be heard directly by their representatives. Nañez left that day feeling confident in his thoughts being heard and considered.

“If I only learned one thing about this day, it would be that I do have a voice,” said Nañez. “I feel students have this preconceived notion that you don’t really have a chance to speak your mind, and if get the chance, who’s going to listen? Now, having this experience under my belt, I know that anyone and everyone has a voice, it’s just a matter of speaking up and using that voice.”

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