Nathan Nanez, a senior at The Dalles High School, was chosen to represent the Eastern Oregon area as part of a campaign called Oregonians for Student Success. He was one of four students selected statewide.
Nanez was filmed for an entire day to capture how funding affects him and has been invited to speak at a Lobby Day in Salem on March 19 to further explain his thoughts on state education funding.
“This all started with Candy Armstrong, the superintendent, receiving an email from Blue Chalk Media and the Oregon School Board Association looking for student stories they could highlight,” said Nanez. “Somehow through the grapevine they were referred to me, and I said I would help with the project.”
Blue Chalk Media is a production company based in Portland and New York City. Nanez was put in contact with Gordon Klco, a producer with the company, who came out to The Dalles to shadow Nanez from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Feb 21. The video will be placed in a video segment intended to promote the campaign on social media.
“The day Gordon filmed me was just like any other day for me — jam packed,” said Nanez. “In short, my first period is free for homework, second is AP Bio, third is CPR, then lunch, fourth is leadership and fifth is economics at the community college. Then I have theatre rehearsals and cheer before heading home at 8:30 p.m. and get started on homework.”
With the exception of his lunch and a few breaks between classes, Nanez is in class, doing homework or partaking in one of his extracurricular activities for the entire day. For several classes he and his peers are left using facilities outside of the school, such as in CPR where they drive to the fire station for lab days or his economics course at CGCC. Nanez is also performing in the school’s production of Beauty and the Beast, which shows this week and next.
What motivates Nanez to focus so diligently on his education stems from his upbringing. “I truly believe that I was raised with the mentality of valuing my education,” said Nanez. “I have always believed that education is the strongest force anyone can wield and without education, how can you make a solid decision?
“This mentality is what led me to pursue my education to the best of my abilities.”
The Lobby Day Nanez is participating in is sponsored by the OSBA and designed to connect school board members, parents and educators from each district with respective legislators to advocate for education funding. The OSBA specified dates weekly based on geographical location, but Nanez was unable to attend the March 12 date for Eastern Oregon and is attending the following week instead. The students and all involved parties will meet with legislators, be recognized by the House or Senate chambers and be able to speak on their beliefs regarding education funding.
“I want to speak as the advocate for those who haven’t gotten all of the chances I have,” said Nanez. “I am aware how lucky I am to be in a school and district that does everything in their power to support their students, but I can see the constant struggle when the shifting of funds leads to program cuts, restricting students’ educations even further.”
Nanez is not the first accomplished student in his family; his older sister Jessika graduated valedictorian of her class and won Oregon’s Distinguished Young Woman award for 2018 before attending the University of Alabama on scholarship. Jessika’s achievements impacted Nanez significantly.
“Jessika has had such an influence on my life,” said Nanez. “She shows me what it means to have a complete dedication to everything you do. This ideal is something that I will take with me, not just through my educational career, but through the entirety of my life. The home I was raised in and the constant support I receive from my family is what has allowed me to pursue all of my dreams to the fullest extent.”