Project Metro aims to unite students around a common cause

The first of it's kind non-school affiliated dance is donating a portion of proceeds to Homeplate Youth Services

Tigard+Metro+ticket+representative+Hazhar+Kadir+holds+up+a+few+of+the+tickets+for+sale.+His+goal+is+to+sell+enough+to+meet+his+quota+for+the+week.+

Liz Blodgett

Tigard Metro ticket representative Hazhar Kadir holds up a few of the tickets for sale. His goal is to sell enough to meet his quota for the week.

      On Saturday, a fundraiser aims to take a new approach to collecting money: a high school dance. 

     Sal Najjar, a senior at Mountainside High School, came up with the idea as the schools ASB president last year. He was inspired to hold a dance benefiting HomePlate after finding out that Beaverton School District had one of the highest rates of student homelessness in the state. Initially, the plan was for the dance to be school sponsored, but when the idea was pitched to administration, they rejected it. Najjar then reached out to DJ Max of Blackboard Music with the idea, and the two began to work on the project. 

Both Mountainside and Tigard administrators were unable to be reached for comment Thursday as they were out of office.

     Hazhar Kadir is a ticket sale representative for Tigard. Most of the representatives that got involved with the project did so after being approached to help by Najjar. Kadir was approached to help with the project in early November and described himself as “like obsessed with school dances.”  

     “It’s a school event but it’s not school [affiliated]… everyone’s genuinely being themselves and having fun,” Kadir added.

     Ticket sales are incentivized, with representatives from schools including Mountainside, Tigard, Beaverton, and Westview all getting free “VIP” tickets. The representatives have been told they will receive  a prize if they sell the most tickets, although Najjar was unable to present what specifically would be awarded at the time of publishing. Additionally, Najjar was not able to clarify who was paying for prizes or how the proceeds raised would be divided among contributors, like Blackboard. How the venue was paid for was not specified. 

     “What I saw last is that it probably has about 20 or 25% of the proceeds are going to the charity,” Kadir said. “I believe Blackboard is gonna get some… I’m not sure where the other half is going to be honest, none of [the representatives] were told.” 

    Deiahdeen Alhjaj attends Mountainside High School and is also a representative. Alhjaj is friends with Najjar and decided to help out because he likes helping his friends. Alhjaj was particularly interested in the charitable aspect of the dance. 

    “I live near a park I walk through to get to work,” he said over text. “Every once and a while I will see someone sleeping on the benches and more than often that’s someone my age.” Alhjaj says that the cause is one close to his heart, and that he wants to help with the issue as much as he can. 

     Proceeds from the dance will benefit HomePlate Youth Services, a local organization that focuses on the positive development of young people experiencing homelessness or housing instability. 

     Home Plate works with homeless youth in Washington County anywhere from ages 12 to 24. They provide drop in services four days a week, and also have a team of outreach coordinators that go around the county–including Tigard. 

     “[We] meet youth where they are,” Kirstien Carpentier, Director of Outreach for Home Plate said. “They invite them to come to Homeplate if they would like to access more of our resources, get a meal, a job… we provide a variety of resources.” 

     “We really appreciate the support and caring of the community… you know these are young people, these are our future,” Carpentier said. “I think that’s what [Sal] had in mind, young people helping other young people.”

 

Meghan Turley
Tickets for Project Metro are available both online and through ticket representatives. Posts on the page allow people to comment song requests for Blackboard Music.

  How much of the proceeds will be donated is unclear, with advertisements stating that “a portion of proceeds,” will be donated. Undesignated donations to Home Plate generally land up helping to provide services for Home Plate and keep them open, things like ID costs, a special pair of boots or other needs. 

     Blackboard music was approached by Najjar over the summer, having connected through Oregon Association of Student Councils. Enticed by what was described as the idea of a drug and alcohol free high school dance party benefiting youth homelessness, Blackboard agreed to help with the project. Blackboard says they are providing sound, lighting, DJing, security and marketing help for the event at an extremely discounted rate. 

      “Our team will be conducting pat downs, bag checks and security as well as supervising the event,” says Max Barenburg, a representative from Blackboard music. “Blackboard Music is one of the only companies in the Northwest with the expertise and experience to properly produce an event of this size for high school students.” Blackboard has been in charge of school events before, DJing both Tigard’s Homecoming and Prom.

      Alhjaj says the main concerns he has heard expressed has to do with the attendance of the event and safety. “Many people don’t believe in the idea and it would be easy to label them as haters,” he says. “But the concern is valid, it’s the first of its kind event and I don’t think people like the uncertainty.”

      Organizers, all students themselves, note that while there will not be breathalyzers at the dance, anyone suspected of being intoxicated will be removed and not allowed to come back, as there is a zero tolerance policy.

     Overall, organizers and representatives alike hope the event will be a fun (and safe) success. 

     “I’m really excited for this because I feel like it’s so different and such a good student led thing and really showing how far student leadership outside of school has gone,” Kadir said.  

      Project Metro starts at 8 p.m. on Saturday at 14523 SW Millikan Way #110 Beaverton, Oregon. Tickets starting at $10 available to purchase online or through a representative at various high schools around the area-including Tigard and Mountainside. Additionally, the Instagram page states that a limited number of tickets will be sold at the door day of.