Incoming students told to dream big, be bold


Incoming students told to dream big, be bold

10:05 a.m. PDT September 7, 2016

Tuesday was the first day of school for sixth and ninth graders in the Salem-Keizer School District.

To welcome those starting at McKay High School in Salem, Oregon Deputy Superintendent Salam Noor and McKay Principal Sara LeRoy spoke at the freshmen orientation.

Their message to the students was clear — work hard, dream big.

About 640 freshmen became Royal Scots on Tuesday, making up the class of 2020.

McKay High School is home to about 2,300 students, part of the more than 41,000 students who make up the Salem-Keizer School District.

If trends continue from past years, about 490 of these freshmen will graduate in four years; 150 will take the SAT; 12 will drop out; and 337 will continue with their education via a community college or four-year institution soon after graduating.

But Noor wasn’t there to encourage the students to continue with the trends. He was there to encourage them to do even better.

“Your future is in your hands,” he said. “You must take advantage of every opportunity presented to you and … seek out your own.”

Noor said he decided to visit McKay out of all schools in Oregon on the first day because it is a “very special place for (him).”

When Noor worked for the Salem-Keizer School District, he worked in the administration building just across the street from McKay.

“I used to say I have the best view,” he said. “I got to look at McKay and see all the great things happening (here).”

He encouraged the students to stay focused, set goals, challenge themselves and dream big.

“Your future starts here,” he said.

LeRoy said she couldn’t wait until the day she shook each of the students’ hands as they crossed the stage at graduation in 2020.

“It’s going to be an awesome four years,” she said. “The sky is the limit for you.”

While kindergarten students will start on Sept. 14, the rest of the district will go back to school Wednesday.

Contact Natalie Pate at, 503-399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate, Facebook at or


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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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