News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Banners honor Sisters Class of 2024

This year's high school graduating seniors who live in Sisters Country are being recognized and celebrated with individual photo banners hanging on lamp posts along all of Cascade Avenue and parts of Main and Hood Avenues from April 22 through May 13.

According to Citizens4Community (C4C) executive director Kellen Klein, "The Banner Project was initially launched in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, as a way to acknowledge and honor graduating students when in-person festivities weren't feasible. After a one-year hiatus, the Project is being relaunched for the Class of 2024."

All graduating seniors in Sisters Country are acknowledged, whether they attend Sisters High School, another high school or educational program, or are home schooled. Participation in the project is totally voluntary, and a few students opted out. There is no cost to the students or their families.

The community support for the Project has been evident since parents Angie Bagg and Jamie Vohs wanted to bring the Project back.

Bagg explained, "We reached out to C4C due to their previous involvement in the past, and we also wanted to find a 'home' for this project so that it would continue to happen in years to come. Kellen Klein jumped right in and took the reins! With our parent volunteers, Kellen, the City of Sisters, and assistance from SHS, the project took off again in full force. C4C set up a fundraising page to fund the project, and it was fully funded with $3,525 in eight days. This shows how much the community supports each other and our students."

Vohs had worked with C4C on the banner project for the class of '21.

"I wanted to get involved because last year I heard so many people say they missed seeing the senior banners. I felt like I could help in coordinating the people to make it happen, especially with my involvement from a few years back," Vohs said.

Sisters resident and retired educator Kay Grady expressed her gratitude for the project.

"Just filled up my heart watching a family photographing their graduate celebrating her banner. Hugs all around. So happy to live where we celebrate these accomplishments," she said.

Another resident, Jim Hagedorn, said, "Good job, Sisters! This means more than you can know! Community recognition validates these teens as part of the whole community."

With the guidance of C4C and the support of individual and business donors, volunteers, the City of Sisters, and other community partners, the Project is truly a collaborative effort including: parent volunteers Bagg and Vohs; Susie Seaney, SHS yearbook advisor (senior photo coordination); Bethany Gunnarson, SHS visual arts teacher and screen-printing class (banner printing); City of Sisters Public Works (banner installation); and Explore Sisters (banner timeline coordination).

The location of the banners on the three streets is entirely random. C4C used a Google randomization engine to avoid bias and ensure an equitable process. When the banners are removed from downtown in May, they will be taken to the high school where they will be displayed in the cafeteria. Each student will receive their banner at graduation as a keepsake from the community.

The fact that the Banner Project is back indicates the pride the city takes in its students.

Vohs said, "I think the Banner Project says a lot about the City of Sisters and our community. The funds for this project were raised in eight days. That feels like a clear statement that the community wanted it back."

Bagg agreed, "The Banner Project displays to our community and to those visiting our little town that Sisters takes pride in its youth. We celebrate each other and we value one another. It truly is a great place to live."

"For both local residents and the thousands of travelers who pass through Sisters each day, one thing is clear – Sisters is proud of its young scholars," concluded Klein.


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