• Benson’s Curtis Wilson Jr. honored at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. event

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    Curtis Wilson with wife and son

    Curtis Wilson Jr. is joined by his wife, Yushonna, and son, Andrew, as he receives his Lifetime Achievement Award. (Photo by Beth Conyers)

    For Benson High School principal Curtis Wilson Jr., receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award was exciting. To receive it at Portland’s annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave the honor added meaning.

    “We all have different ideals as to how he affected us,” Wilson said of the civil rights icon. “For me, it was about enacting change at a macro level. I feel like as a principal, I can make changes at a school that affects a lot of Benson students, moving things forward for students of color.”

    Wilson received the award Monday at the annual tribute put on by the World Arts Foundation on Dr. Martin King Luther Jr. Day at the Highland Christian Church. Joined by his wife, Yushonna Wilson, and youngest son, Andrew, Wilson accepted the honor a year after he was named the Oregon High School Principal of the Year. Under Wilson’s guidance, Benson – which has an enrollment that is 67 percent students of color – has achieved high graduation rates and low dropout rates.

    “It was exhilarating to be recognized and honored for all the work that you do here for the district,” said Wilson, who is in his sixth year at Benson. “We have a very thankless job, so I was excited to stand up there and know that the work I've been doing in the district for nearly 30 years has been recognized.”

    The event also featured performances from a variety of Portland Public Schools programs, including the Bravo Music Program from Cesar Chavez Schools, the American Music Program from Vernon and the Jefferson High School Dancers.

    See photos from the event

    Here's is the video used to introduce Wilson: