From Oregon City, meet Oregon Rep Shaylee, Be Strong’s May 2020 Student of the Month!
“I choose to Be Strong by embracing and appreciating our differences.”
Shaylee’s been changing how relationships form in Oregon City for years. A 2020 graduate, she was introduced to Be Strong by her school’s resource officer, David Plummer, during her sophomore year.
They recognized the need to develop unity within the school, not because of stark division between social groups, but for those who didn’t feel they were a part of any. As a great listener, charismatic leader, and someone who genuinely wants to build friendships, Shaylee was the perfect person to step in.
Officer Plummer nominated Shaylee to become Be Strong’s second ever Student State Representative in Oregon. She immediately sprung into action, engaging fellow students with her comforting presence, heartfelt smile and infinite acts of kindness.
“Shaylee is the most compassionate, kind and considerate person that I have ever met,” said Plummer. “Every time you talk to her, you are met with a huge smile and kind words. She dedicates most of her time to making a difference in other people’s lives.”
Within weeks of teaming up with Be Strong, Shaylee had established a We Dine Together initiative on her high school campus with the support of Officer Plummer. “Shaylee will do “Freeze Dance” in front of a group of students or engage in conversation with someone she sees sitting alone in the lunchroom; something that many people lack the courage to do,” shared a member of the group. “Awkward or embarrassed don’t seem to be in Shaylee’s vocabulary.”
“Since I got to high school, Shaylee has been nothing but a kind, welcoming soul. She made me feel like I had a place and she does everything with kindness and love.”
Time flew by as more and more students came together for Shaylee’s We Dine Together meetings. They share meals, goofy activities, laughs and the challenges they’re facing. Shaylee can bring a whole group of people that don’t really know each other together, playing games and laughing. Everyone wants to feel the love that she brings.
In the spring semester of 2019, Shaylee had an exciting opportunity to speak at Gardiner Middle School, where she once attended. Shaylee shared all about the amazing work she’d been doing in high school, making friends out of strangers and change-makers of bystanders. And in the process, paved the way for another We Dine Together group to begin, led by three amazing students in the seventh grade.
Looking back, Officer Plummer recalled, “Last year, during one of our meetings, a student started talking about how he was feeling suicidal, wanting to end his life, and he was invited down to our club. And then, he went on to talk about how he made friends at the club and basically, it’s changed his life.”
We Dine Together continued to grow, with upwards of 100 students attending the group’s meetings. Shaylee and Plummer knew the need was great… and so were the students they served. The decision was made to expand leadership and four more amazing students not only helped lead the group but became Be Strong Student Reps as well. Taylor, Wynter, Bethany and Sydney will continue to lead next year, after Shaylee’s graduation, and are constantly inspired by her leadership.
“I am drawn to and admire Shaylee’s sense of humor, her warmth and authenticity. She’s not afraid to be herself, and it’s really refreshing,” admitted Bethany, who’s been involved with the club since the beginning. “She is all-around amazing, and such an example to me.”
Taylor, currently a sophomore, said, “I love how Shaylee needs no reason to be kind, whether that’s sending friendship bracelets in the mail or dropping off a sunflower at your house. Her character shines through the small things she does that many wouldn’t stop and think to do. She’s inspired me since the first day I walked into We Dine Together as a freshman, and always pushed me to step out of my comfort zone.”
“I think the number one thing that draws me to Shaylee is her upbeat attitude. She can always make you smile and laugh.” Sydney added, “I don’t think there has been a time where I talked to Shaylee and haven’t felt happier afterwards. She’s the kind of friend that never lets you have a bad day!”
When asked what truly resonates about Shaylee to Wynter, she replied, “Shaylee faces every challenge with a smile and a determined attitude. No matter what is going on in her life she will make meaningful change to better others… and she has the best dance moves.”
“Since our We Dine Together club started several years ago, I have watched Shaylee bring hundreds of students together and make a difference in their lives. I am very proud of Shaylee and all of her accomplishments.” – Officer Plummer
This spring brought new challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic. Shaylee and her crew could no longer hold meetings at school, change someone’s day with a hug or erupt into spontaneous dance together. They still chose to rise! Shaylee maintained her constant, selfless focus, looking out for all those she has served and served with at school. Their We Dine Together meetings are being held virtually via video conference. Knowing that isolation leads to loneliness and loneliness leads to depression, they make it a priority to check in on others by text or phone.
Shaylee, it has been an honor to run alongside you these past few years. Your heart and dedication have inspired so many young leaders, and we thank you for being you!