A brief stroll through the hallways of Hermiston High School reveals a campaign that’s gaining steam. Throughout the high school are pink shirts, pink shoes. pink jackets, pink tutus, pink fliers, pink signs.
There’s a lot of pink, and it’s for a good reason. Following Pendleton High School’s lead, Hermiston has undertaken a campaign to get former Hermiston Spanish teacher and current Pendleton Spanish teacher Kathryn Youngman, who is currently battling cancer for the third time while teaching, on TV. The campaign was started in the hopes of getting Youngman on the popular daytime talk show, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”
“A couple of our kids got text messages or emails or something from some of the Pendleton ASB kids, and they asked me to start looking at it and they told me that the Pendleton kids wanted us to do pink,” Hermiston Associated Student Body advisor Dave Rohrman said. “My ASB kids met that period and they were just like, ‘Hey this is something we can do that’s nice for people. We don’t have any expectation for reward. And it would be kinda cool to get her on ‘Ellen.’
“When it was presented to me, I didn’t have much of a choice. The kids were gonna do it one way or another.”
After Rohrman heard the students’ pitch, he showed it to the administration.
“It took all of five seconds for them to approve it,” Rohrman said.
That was Monday morning. By Tuesday, the campaign had spread on social media to reach some national figures. Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kerri Walsh, former Oregon Ducks quarterback Vernon Adams, current Oregon State basketball player Tres Tinkle and current Atlanta Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley each noticed the campaign and helped push it along.
“In an hour it started blowing up,” Rohrman said. “We put it out in an email to the staff. We put it out on social media. We made fliers with their hashtag ‘#YoungmanOnEllen.’”
Hermiston and Pendleton have now added a “Pink Out” for the Feb. 2 game between the Buckaroos and the Bulldogs.
“Stuff like this is gonna make it so much easier just to get kids involved,” Rohrman said. “We’re having a lot of fun.”
But more than just fun, there is a lot of learning going on, as well. In his first year as ASB advisor, Rohrman, a history teacher, is learning on the job about how to use social media effectively while surrounded by a handful of students who already know it intimately. Rohrman himself has gotten a baptism by fire in the world of Twitter and Facebook, but he’s also giving lessons on selflessness and giving back.
He said he’s been impressed by the level of participation surrounding community-based projects. For instance, Rohrman talked about a canned food drive and a fundraiser for Special Olympics.
“All we have to do is ask,” he said. “Consistently ask.”
Rohrman said a goal for his ASB unit to is achieve 100 percent participation in one of these projects. With the amount of attention #YoungmanOnEllen is attracting — Rohrman said some of his students have said in class, ‘Can we look at the Facebook page? We don’t want to talk about the end of World War II — he’s hopeful he can both achieve his 100 percent goal, but also give the important lesson of selflessness and helpfulness.
“It’s so easy to do and we’re gonna have a pretty good impact as far as the awareness for cancer and how strong someone like Mrs. Youngman is. I mean, three bouts with cancer from a young age — that’s a tough lady. It’s just another opportunity to show how easy it is to be selfless and helpful.”