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Karanja Crews, a Jefferson Teacher
Published: 26 March 2008

This is a good year to be a Demo. When we are a community, we win! When we are community, we win more than state championships.
We were down 12 points at halftime during the Girls State Championship in the Chiles Center at University of Portland, and the crowd was nervous. Nervous because we did not want to see a perfect season come to an end. We wondered about the phantom calls by the referees, who called fouls on the Demos when there was no foul, but failed to call a foul on our opponents when one occurred. The anxiety was thick! Questions began to rise. Why? Why are the refs cheating?  
We came out of the second half with new hope and yet again; we began to experience phantom calls. The nervousness began to turn into sickness. Literally, my stomach started to hurt, as it reminded me of the night I drove two hours from Tacoma, Wash. in 1995 to support our Northeast Portland team in the state championship game at the Rose Garden. I saw another episode of 7 on 5 — I saw a team become discouraged and lose confidence because of the phantom calls. And I witnessed a relentless team play their hearts out, but they were still overcome by the phantom calls.
At the girls' championship game, I looked to the cheerleaders to lead, inspire and encourage me. As I looked into their faces, I saw fear and doubt. They tried a cheer to inspire the team, but the fear over shadowed their voices!  
Then, I heard a sound — a confident sound that sprung from the crowd of former Jeffersonians. They shouted, "What school you from?" Then I heard a small crowd yell "Jefferson!" "What school you from?", "Jefferson!" The believers started to influence the nonbelievers.
That sound — that distinct sound — got louder, and we all begun to sing, "What school you from?", "Jefferson!" That sound begun to trickle down to the court. I could see the kids being inspired from the encouragement in the crowd. This was our community coming together. I could see the girls' confidence begin to spring forth as they stopped focusing on the phantom calls. They regained their focus on their ability and what they were are capable of doing. So our defense went up a notch. Our offence went up two notches. And then we went on a 12-0 run. Our leader on the floor then hit a shot at the buzzer to put us ahead at the end of the third quarter.
This win is symbolic to our year at Jeff. We have believers and non-believers, but all we need is a small group of believers to send a wave of change and deliverance. The phantom calls by the refs are symbolic of the phantom calls called by the media over the years that Jeff is a bad school. Jefferson has been plagued with negative media for years. The negativity has influenced a lot of people's perception about Jefferson. From the 1995 state championship game, to the 1998 school board decision to reconstitute the school — phantom calls have all been against Jefferson.
The boys' championship game is another symbol of how Jefferson can perservere over phantom calls. I teach in the Young Men's Academy at Jefferson High School. I saw a total of more than 10 unfair calls in the boys' championship game. In my opinion, these were worse then the 1995 championship game and this year's girl's championship game. We have a coach who handled those calls with frustrated class. With a tie in his mouth and hands behind his back he talked to the ref after one of our best players fouled out. Coach Marshall Haskins will have the opportunity to lead John H. Johnson Young Men's Academy to an academic championship, just as he led that basketball team to victory. The decision to name Marshall Haskins as the interim principal of the academy echoes: "What School You From?" Haskins, a Jefferson graduate, leader, community member, and our champion boys team coach is someone who can give solutions from the inside out.
Yes, we need some changes from the inside out. We have to uproot the nonbelievers who doubt the capacity of students at Jefferson. We have to allow the students and teachers who do not choose to be at Jefferson the right to leave. We must shield the students who remain free of phantom calls and continue to whittle their faith in themselves and their beliefs in their school and teachers. We need to cheer them back like the small crowd at the championship game that believed in us when we lost our faith because of misconceptions that plague our school.
The initiative by the mayor of Portland to bring his office to Jefferson was like that chant. He reminded us of our power of community. The mayor came to change the perception the public has about the school.
Ask our students what they are learning. They are being exposed to business leaders across the state. They are showing great gains in their reading and math skills. Don't believe the hype, but believe this school is bound to greatness.
 What school you from?
Our Jefferson Dancers were on a trip to the National Dance Festival in Philadelphia. Our student choreography piece won first place at the festival. Many of them were awarded many scholarships from a variety of different summer dance programs and elite performing arts colleges.
A good year to be a Demo!
What school you from?
Dr. Harris, received one of the Salvation Army's 2008 Community Pride Awards
A good year to be a Demo!
What school you from?
Our football team had a great year and during our Homecoming game retired the No. 37 jersey of 1959 Jeff grad and pro football legend Mel Renfro.
What school you from?
In November, the Trail Blazers chose Jefferson to kick off its new Make It Better mentoring and gym refurbishing campaign.
What school you from?
Mentors and volunteers are helping out at our school.
What school you from?
Maggie Brister-Mashia, a 1980 Jeff grad who runs the alumni association, volunteered her time in the Young Men's Academy. She is leading an initiative to raise $25,000 for a campus electronic reader board and to clean tarnished trophies and historical pictures are being shined.
So… let's get it together! All we need is a small group of believers to persevere and champion our students at Jeff — not only to be champions on the court but to be champions in the classroom! Come to Jeff and make it better!

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