BONANZA — “How you living?”
Students at Bonanza Junior-Senior High School were asked that question Wednesday, and will be pondering its answer throughout the 2019-20 school year. The question is on bulletin boards in the hallways and above the inside of the school’s main entrance.
Bonanza’s new principal, Jordan Osborn, likes themes. He likes to challenge and engage his students, build relationships and connect the school with its community. And, with the help of staff and student leadership, he kicked off the new school year doing just that.
How You Living? — and its answer — is Bonanza’s theme for the year.
“I want to challenge each and every one of you this year to make a positive impact on the school, make a positive impact in your classroom, make a positive impact in the community,” Osborn told students Wednesday after they watched a video featuring motivational speaker Rick Rigsby, an author, minister and former college professor. In the video, Rigsby asked the question, “How you living?”
“When I see you in the hallways, I’m not going to ask you, ‘How you doing?’ I’m going to ask you, ‘How you living?’ ” Osborn continued. “Do you have good character? Are you on time? Do you have patience? Are you making a positive impact on people’s lives? That’s the stuff that’s important. And that’s what’s important to me. I want you guys to be excellent students, but I want you to be excellent people as well. So I’m going to ask you, ‘How you living?’ ”
The motivational video was part of an all-school assembly featuring games and a video produced by student body presidents Jean Herrera and Cassidy Byrne. In that video, teachers talked a bit about themselves — their hobbies, their jobs, and their goals for the year. “When we did the video, we had teachers introduce themselves in a relatable way,” Herrera explained. “We’re hoping that kids and teachers can build relationships and connections.”
The games — which included pencil flipping, eating Oreo cookies from foreheads, and catching and eating donut holes — involved teams of seventh- through 12th-graders and a team of staff members.
Osborn’s theme for the school year was introduced in the video featuring Rigsby, who also is author of Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout: How the Timeless Wisdom of One Man Can Impact an Entire Generation.
“ ‘How You Living’ was chosen because it fits in with an improved climate and culture,” Osborn said. “We want to have students who are excellent students academically but equally as important we want to challenge students to positively impact the lives of their classmates, their school and the greater Bonanza community on a daily basis. ‘How You Living’ is our spin on that. It’s our way of challenging students to become students of high character and intellect.
“I believe we have great kids, a great staff, and community, which is very exciting to me,” he added.
Osborn was hired as principal of Bonanza following the retirement of longtime educator and administrator Art Ochoa, who had been principal at the school since 2012. He is one of two new principals this fall in the Klamath County School District. Margaret McCadden took the reins of Merrill and Malin elementary schools following the retirement of principal Larita Ongman.
Herrera and Byrne, the student body co-presidents, are excited about the year and their goals. The junior-senior high has about 190 students in grades 7-12.
“It’s exciting to see the energy,” Herrera said. “It motivating to us and all the students.”
Byrne agreed. “Motivation is contagious,” he said. “When one kid is excited for a pep rally, their whole friend group follows, and then they get involved with the games, and there is more school spirit.”
Byrne and Herrera want the school to be a place where new ideas, values and beliefs are supported, and students feel accepted and look forward to coming each day. The two co-presidents are embracing a culture of inclusion and diversity, and the believe the question, “How you living?” will resonate with students.
“It makes you think,” Herrera said. “It gives you the time to reflect on yourself and your future.”
Osborn, who came to Bonanza after spending two years as vice principal and athletic director at Chiloquin Junior-Senior High School, is looking forward to getting to know the Bonanza community. He wants to continue to improve the culture and climate at the school and has started a student leadership class, which he will co-teach with Bonanza’s new social studies teacher and yearbook advisor Corey Hedger.
“There are lots of good things already happening with our students and staff, but I believe that you have to continue to grow as students and educators and not settle for status quo,” Osborn said. “Every school in America can improve climate and culture so we just want to put our own spin on that.”
Bonanza staff has implemented a new system to recognize positive behavior, and as the school year started, had already sent 50 positive notes home. The kick-off assembly Wednesday was a way to start the year off on a positive note and introduce the overall theme.
“I believe themes are important because it gives us something to hang our hats on and come back to when we are having conversations with students and staff,” Osborn said. “Hopefully in a few months if you asked our students in Bonanza what ‘How You Living’ means they will be able to tell you it means having high character, being kind, working hard and making a positive impact in each other’s lives.”
Osborn, 33, grew up in Eatonville, Wash., a small logging community of 2,000 situated at the base of Mt. Rainier. He earned his Master of Arts in Teaching in 2010 from Pacific University and began his teaching career in 2010 at Mapleton High School. Since then, he has taught social studies and leadership and served as dean of students, athletic director and assistant principal. He was hired as Chiloquin’s vice principal and athletic director in 2017. He also headed Chiloquin’s student leadership class and embraced the theme “Chiloquin Rising,” which inspired not only students but the community to make positive changes.
Osborn is excited about his new role.
“I plan on bringing a lot of positive energy to Bonanza every single day,” he said. “I love what I do and am so happy and honored to be the principal at Bonanza.”
— Marcia Schlottmann, public relations, Klamath County School District. 541-851-8743; email@example.com