REAP Aims to Increase Leadership, Accountability

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REAP coordinator Daniel Shelton is located in the counseling center.

Sheila Trnjanin, Staff Writer

Founded in 2001, REAP is a youth development program in the State of Oregon, and now it’s at Centennial. The program is designed to help students in their leadership quality skills, and give them the opportunity to be leaders in and outside of their school.

REAP offers a variety of programs to its member schools, yet the two main ones that will be focused on at Centennial are the Renaissance and Solutions programs. The hope is for more staff to be brought in, so that the school can engage in all four of REAP’s programs.

Last year, Daniel Shelton, now adviser of Centennial’s REAP, was responsible for improving attendance rates among the student body, and the organization was brought in as one of the solutions to that issue. The Renaissance program, which is targeted mainly towards African American males, aims to improve the graduation and attendance rates of those students. “It is a lower demographic at Centennial High School for African Americans. There was about 120 students last year that were African American, and out of that number, I would say a good 30 or 40 percent were kind of under the tiers of attendance and grades. So, they want to boost that level up, and I think REAP will benefit for that,” Shelton said.

The Solutions program is one where all students can get involved, and will engage students year round to discuss issues they would want to be changed, in school and in the community. Guest speakers will also come to speak to members to show how they can be involved outside of Centennial. Shelton said, “I’ve got students who want to write letters to the mayor about police brutality right now, and not be a problem, be a solution, be a fix to the situation.”

REAP is highly recognized among the State of Oregon, and previous mayor, Sam Adams, proclaimed the last Thursday of September the official REAP day in Portland in 2012. In addition, the programs successes include a four-year graduation rate of 90%, and 80% college enrollment. Students involved with REAP have played leadership roles as interns for companies like Oregon Department of Education, Legacy Health, Trimet, and Multnomah County Youth Commission.

“We’re looking for students of all types of leadership qualities. We’re not just looking for students who have issues with leadership qualities, we’re looking for students who have those qualities as well, so they can also be ambassadors for this program.”

Meetings will occur during SUN School hours, from 3:30 to 5 on Mondays and Thursdays. For more information about REAP, check out their website at reapusa.org