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  • 'I knew I wanted to do something big'

    North Medford student orchestrates memorable homecoming dance request
  • A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Unless it's made of red construction paper and green pool floaties and stuck high on the wall of your high school gym.
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  • A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. Unless it's made of red construction paper and green pool floaties and stuck high on the wall of your high school gym.
    Doing the "big ask" is all the rage these days. Whether it's to the school prom, homecoming dances or holy matrimony, YouTube is full of videos depicting creative and elaborate invitations to share life's little milestones.
    Some have hijacked the school's public address system to make their prom requests. Others grabbed their buddies for backup on a Backstreet Boys cover, "Will you go to prom with me?"
    Enter North Medford High School junior Isaac Grether, his less-than-mad skills with construction paper, and one very public invite of soccer-playing senior McKensie Ragan to their homecoming dance.
    Grether, 16, a linebacker on the school's football team, had been pondering how he'd ask a girl to the Oct. 12 dance since last year.
    "I knew I wanted to do something big," he said.
    Grether's creative vision led him to a scrolling, red-lettered request on a black reader board and a rose in the fist of the school's whirling Black Tornado logo.
    First Grether gathered red construction paper and perused how-to origami videos. Next he enlisted the help of his mom and sister. But after two hours of three people folding and refolding, Grether said he and his family members were forced to improvise.
    "It didn't really work," Grether said of their rose-building attempts at the meticulous Japanese paper-folding techniques.
    Opting to stuff, smoosh, roll and tape the construction paper, Grether said they finally achieved a reasonable facsimile of a giant rosebud.
    "We attached two (green) pool floatie noodle things for the stem, and we cut a leaf out of construction paper," Grether said.
    A little collusion with the school's principal, Ron Beick, and the message "Kensie? Too late to ask you to Homecoming?" was on the reader board and ready to roll.
    In a midnight foray with his dad, Jobie, Grether affixed the rose to the school's mascot, which sits high upon the exterior wall of the school's main gym.
    "I helped him," his dad said. "And we talked to the principal. So it wasn't a midnight prank."
    Tuesday was a long, late night. But all that was left was to wait for the start of school Wednesday morning. And Grether was on pins and needles, clocking the action, he said.
    "School started at 9:06. I got there at 8:58. Kensie arrived at 9:02," he said.
    Grether met Ragan in the parking lot, then walked his "longtime friend" down toward the display.
    "At first she didn't see it," he said.
    Grether spun her around the wrong direction first, then back toward the rose the next time, Ragan said.
    "I was in shock," Ragan said.
    Grether figured Ragan was kinda-sorta expecting a homecoming invite from him. But Ragan said Grether dithered around so long, she wasn't sure he'd spit out his request before the dance came and went.
    She certainly wasn't expecting her procrastinating date to have staged such an elaborate or public invitation, she said.
    "He was good at hiding it," Ragan said. "It took him forever to do it."
    Grether responded it's "better late than never," and that Ragan agreed to go, after giving him a "big hug."
    Grether admitted he was relieved Ragan replied in the affirmative.
    "It would have been pretty embarrassing if she'd said 'no'," he said.
    As for the rose, Grether said he's in no hurry to remove his handiwork from the gym wall.
    "I'm just going to leave that up," Grether said. "Maybe I'll take it down on Friday."
    Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.
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