Chemawa junior sets sights on college as the first Native Lakhani scholar

Kayla Monte — a junior this coming year at Chemawa Indian School in Salem — has dreams of becoming an architect. To get there, she has her sights set on Harvard, Yale or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

With the help of an encouraging teacher, Monte completed her application for the Lakhani Scholars. She was selected as one of three winners across the country and became the first Native American recipient in the program’s history.

Read the full story here.

Unsheltered community moved out of Cascades Gateway Park as renovations begin

Several hundred individuals have been living in the city park for more than a year — since city officials lifted camping restrictions there and at Wallace Marine Park as part of COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

But now, they can’t stay. Read the full story here.

Oregon artists savor each moment as they return to the stage for the first time in a year

Joint byline with Bill Poehler

Performers had a large part of their identity taken away over the past year. Some tried performing virtually or in small, socially distanced shows. Playing to a camera or in front of a distant, masked audience was a poor substitute for what it’s like in front of a full, live one.

And audiences became hungrier for live performances than ever. As they return now, they show up early, mingle with friends they haven’t seen in years and experience something they didn’t know if they would be able to do again.

Read about local performers’ experiences here.

Are the white oaks near the new Costco dying? Advocates fear predictions are coming true

Site developers promised to safely transplant the trees. Local environmental advocates argued the move would likely kill them.

The latter may have been correct as the leaves on the oaks appear to be mostly brown and some branches have no leaves at all. 

Read the full story here.

Feds may investigate Chemawa Indian School in Salem after discovery of Canadian mass graves

Chemawa Indian School in Salem — the oldest continuously operated residential boarding school for Native American students in the United States — may come under federal review following U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s call for the government to investigate its past oversight of such schools. 

Read the full story here.

Police body cameras, resources for unsheltered: Highlights of Salem’s $662.6M city budget

Natalie is covering city and economic development for the Statesman Journal for the summer of 2021. This story is part of that coverage.

The budget — totaling $662.6 million — covers July 1 through June 30 of next year. It represents the city’s funding for more than 460 specific programs, including new sidewalks, trees and streetlights, but also ongoing projects, like seismic upgrades to the Salem Public Library.

Read the full story here.

School conflict highlights nastiness over reporting COVID-19 protocol violations

Months of conflict in the Cascade School District community surrounding COVID-19 safety concerns have highlighted the need everywhere for students, families and educators to have anonymous and secure reporting options.

Read the full story here.

School board restricts demonstrations at meetings to ‘free speech zones’

A motion passed by the Salem-Keizer school board Tuesday night further limits how members of the public can engage with the governing body.

Most school board members said the new motion — which designates free-speech and no-trespassing zones — is needed to ensure public viewers can hear the meetings.

However, some activists and community members argue they are being silenced and policed both inside and now outside the school.

Read the full story here.

Local schools pledged anti-racism last year, but are they following through?

Joint byline with Jordyn Brown

Many local schools during the protests acknowledged the continued presence of racism and pledged against it, saying they would “do the work” to confront it in schools and listen more to their students of color.

But a year later, with few exceptions, many changes have only appeared in long-term policy reviews or promises. It’s caused some to wonder whether they will follow through.

Salem-Keizer Public Schools has made some changes, specifically with the elimination of school resource officers. But, some argue, it’s not enough.

Read the full story here.

It’s been a year since George Floyd’s murder. What’s changed in Salem?

By Connor Radnovich, Dianne Lugo, Natalie Pate, Virginia Barreda and Whitney Woodworth

One year removed from Floyd’s death, the Statesman Journal looks back on how the fight for racial equity and justice has developed, and what the road ahead may yet hold. Read the full story here.

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