Salem-Keizer signing day honors all upcoming graduates


Salem-Keizer signing day honors all upcoming graduates

9:51 a.m. PDT April 27, 2016

Tuesday was a day of celebration for hundreds of soon-to-be graduates in the Salem-Keizer School District, along with thousands across the country.

April 28 was National College Signing Day, part of Michelle Obama’s Better Make Room campaign — a public awareness campaign targeted at Generation Z, young people ages 14-19.

McKay High School in Salem held the first National Signing Day event in the district last year.

This year, more than 200 students at McKay participated.

The commons at McKay were filled with students and their support teams — families, friends, teachers and other school staff.

Principal Sara LeRoy addressed the audience, telling the students, “Wherever you go, you will always be a Royal Scot.”

The event recognized all students as they start the next chapter of their lives, whether that means going to college, joining the military or going on volunteer missions.

Joe Herrera, 18, and Isabel Morales, 19, are seniors at McKay.

After graduation, they will both attend Western Oregon University in Monmouth.

Morales wants to study exercise science to become a physical therapist. Herrera is going into the teaching program partnership between Western and the Salem-Keizer School District.

The district will pay for his schooling at Western, after which he will come back to the district to teach. He said he wants to teach algebra.

Herrera and Morales said they both thought the event was cool and they didn’t know it would happen for them.

South Salem High School also participated, hosting a table during the lunch hours where students could sign a small certificate to be posted on a wall near the entrance of the school.

Students could also pose for pictures with pendants from their future school, if applicable.

This was the first year South held the event, but organizers said they would like to make it an annual thing.

“You have the athletes honored, but others should also be recognized and celebrated,” said Marlen Torres, the ASPIRE coordinator at South. “This is a way to recognize every senior.”, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter @Nataliempate, on Facebook at or on the Web at


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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit, like her on Facebook at, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at

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