Chemeketa Courier

Chemeketa’s Optimus Prime


By Tyler Ross

Chemeketa students have probably noticed all of the Montez Bailey scholarship flyers around the school.

But most students probably don’t know the story behind the flyers.

Montez Bailey was a young Chemeketa student who touched the lives of many people in Salem before it was tragically cut short.

Bailey, 21, was attending Chemeketa to get his GED and was looking for a way to find himself and recognized that he needed a good education to get a job.

According to Linda Ringo-Reyna, Chemeketa’s Multicultural Services coordinator, Bailey discovered the college’s Multicultural Center and was looking to find his place in the real world.

“He had a really kind heart, a great sense of humor. He was so funny,” Ringo-Reyna said.

According to Ringo-Reyna, Bailey was a joy to be around; he was always willing to help those around him.

Bailey was finishing his GED and was about to start his college life when he died.

Bailey was sitting on a Salem park bench, talking with two friends, when he was shot and killed on May 27, 2009.

According to those who knew him, Bailey’s untimely death was a tragedy that affected many people at Chemeketa and throughout the community.

Ringo-Reyna said that he was a young man who was on a path of improving himself through school when his life was cut short.

To the people who knew him, Bailey provided a helping hand for whoever needed it.

Matt Rauch, who works in the same office where Bailey once spent time at Chemeketa, said, “The legacy of Montez is still present in the students, family, and the staff.”

Manuel Guerra, director of the Student Life Office/Multicultural Center, said, “Montez had a bright future and motivated the staff.”

According to Ringo-Reyna, after helping in the Multicultural Center, Bailey really began to find himself through the people around him. She said he was a great student who was on his way to being the somebody he always wanted to be.

Ringo-Reyna also said that the idea of a second chance was one of the messages that Bailey left behind.

“He was everything that a second chance was meant to be,” she said.

She said that Chemeketa is always open to giving second chances to whoever walks through the door.

Ringo-Reyna said, “He was smart; he was all the adjectives used to describe a good person.

“He was a transformational student. He once asked me, ‘Which transformer character would I be?’ I told him he was Optimus Prime.”

Bailey’s Chemeketa legacy today exists in the form of the scholarship that bears his name.