The Jefferson High School Class of 2023 received a first day of school visit from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero and other elected officials.

During the visit to the North Portland high school, Brown ceremonially signed the Student Success Act, a bill authorizing $1 billion a year for education in Oregon, funded by a business tax.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown laughs with Jefferson High School students as she ceremonially signs the Student Success Act in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown laughs with Jefferson High School students as she ceremonially signs the Student Success Act in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Aug. 28, 2019.

Elizabeth Miller/OPB

Brown pointed out Jefferson’s middle college program with Portland Community College, which gives students the opportunity to earn college credit in high school.

“You could graduate not only with a high school degree, but with an associate’s degree as well,” she said.

Jefferson has drawn attention in recent years for its rising graduation rates, particularly for students of color.

With Student Success Act funds, the goal is for all of Oregon’s school districts to help students do better academically and emotionally.

Starting next year, Oregon schools will receive funding to strengthen mental health resources and better support students who have been underserved by the education system. The tax will also fund an expansion of early childhood education.

“I know there are a lot of kids experiencing trauma throughout the entire state whether it’s domestic violence, substance abuse or houselessness,” Brown said. “I want to make sure they feel safe and that they can ask for help in their high schools, in the middle schools and their elementary schools.”

Asking for help was a repeated theme for the day, as Guerrero advised the new high school students.

“We have high expectations for you, we know you have high expectations for yourself,” Guerrero said. “Please do not hesitate, as you start your high school career to reach out, raise your hand, ask for help.”