Cleveland High School (Portland, Oregon)

Cleveland High School is a public high school in inner southeast Portland, Oregon, United States. It is part of the Portland Public Schools district.

Cleveland High School
Grover Cleveland High School Portland Oregon photo2.jpg
3400 SE 26th Avenue


United States
Coordinates45°29′55″N 122°38′18″W / 45.498515°N 122.638466°W / 45.498515; -122.638466Coordinates: 45°29′55″N 122°38′18″W / 45.498515°N 122.638466°W / 45.498515; -122.638466
Opened1916 (as Commercial High School)
1948 (as Cleveland High School)
School districtPortland Public Schools
PrincipalJo Ann Wadkins [1]
Number of students1680 (2018–2019 enrollment)[3]
Color(s)Kelly green and yellow   [4]
Athletics conferenceOSAA Portland Interscholastic League 6A-1[4]
RivalFranklin High School
NewspaperThe Clarion
WebsiteCleveland High School


Cleveland High School was established in 1916 as Commercial High School, changing its name to the High School of Commerce in 1917.[5] The school was originally located on what is now the Portland State University campus, but moved to its current location in 1929 and expanded its name to Clinton Kelly High School of Commerce.[5] The 1929 building was designed by the architect George Howell Jones.[6] Cleveland's focus during this period was on students pursuing a business education, so it offered courses in bookkeeping, stenography, and other related business subjects.[7]

The High School of Commerce gradually increased its course offerings, and eventually became a comprehensive high school in the fall of 1948. The school's name was changed to Grover Cleveland High School the same year, and a new athletic field house and science laboratories were added to the school.[8] This expansion was funded by a $25 million building levy passed by the Portland school board in 1947 that was aimed at renovating and expanding schools across Portland in response to the post-war baby boom.[9]

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the school district faced declining enrollment, and targeted Cleveland for closure. The CHS property was made up of two parcels: the school building site and the athletic field, originally the site of the Clinton Kelly home. Clinton Kelly, an early Portland settler and minister, specified that the property was to be used solely for a public school. If the property was used for any other purpose, or put up for sale, the property would revert to the Kelly estate, and to the living heirs of Clinton Kelly. The school district ultimately decided to close Washington-Monroe High School instead, and keep Cleveland open.

During 1990 and 1991 the school auditorium was equipped with a large theater pipe organ. The instrument was removed from Benson High School near the Lloyd Center, enlarged, and installed in the Cleveland Auditorium by the Oregon Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (now called the Columbia River Theatre Organ Society), which maintains it and presents events open to the public.

Cleveland joined the International Baccalaureate program in 2000, and is one of two high schools that offer the program in Portland.[10]

In 2005, Cleveland was the setting for the music video for "16 Military Wives" by local indie rock band The Decemberists.[11]

In April 2019, Cleveland was the site of a controversy involving culinary arts students making a cake resembling blackface. This was four days after a small noose was found hanging in one of Cleveland's entry points and six months after swastikas and other antisemitic graffiti was found on Cleveland's walls and even on a flier advertising Cleveland's Jewish Student Union. [12]

Student profileEdit

In the 2018–2019 school year, Cleveland's student population was 68% European American, 10% Hispanic/Latino, 9% Asian, 3% African American, 1% Native American, 1% Pacific Islander, and 8% mixed race.[3] In 2009–2010, the school was locally known for having "an incredibly vocal, motivated and organized parent community".[13]

In 2008, 85% of the school's seniors received a high school diploma. Of 310 students, 262 graduated, 26 dropped out, nine received a modified diploma, and 13 were still in high school the following year.[14][15] In 2009, 28% of Cleveland students were transfers into the school.[16]

Notable alumniEdit

Notes and referencesEdit


  1. ^ "Cleveland High has a new principal, its third since last May".
  2. ^ "Oregon School Directory 2017-18" (PDF). Oregon Department of Education. p. 68. Retrieved 2017-12-14.
  3. ^ a b "Cleveland High School Profile 2018-2019" (PDF). Portland Public Schools. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  4. ^ a b c "Cleveland". Oregon School Activities Association.
  5. ^ a b "Cleveland's History". Portland Public Schools. Archived from the original on 2018-01-12.
  6. ^ "Cleveland School (Portland, Oregon)". Oregon Digital.
  7. ^ Polich 1950, p. 82.
  8. ^ Polich 1950, p. 160.
  9. ^ Polich 1950, pp. 158–160.
  10. ^ "Cleveland High School Profile 2017-2018". Portland Public Schools. from the original on 2018-01-12.
  11. ^ "365 Days, 52 Weeks, 12 Months, 1 Scene". Willamette Week. August 2, 2005. Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  12. ^ Oregonian/OregonLive, Eder Campuzano | The (2019-04-28). "A blackface cake surfaced at a SE Portland high school days after a teacher found a noose in an entryway". oregonlive. Retrieved 2020-03-20.
  13. ^ Kimberly Melton (January 21, 2010). "What will be the fate of my high school?". OregonLive. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
  14. ^ "State releases high school graduation rates". OregonLive. June 30, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  15. ^ "Oregon dropout rates for 2008". OregonLive. June 30, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-01.
  16. ^ Kimberly Melton (February 4, 2010). "How many transfer, and where do they go?". OregonLive. Retrieved 2010-02-12.
  17. ^ Burmeister, Heather (17 March 2018). "Hazel Ying Lee (1912-1944)". Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  18. ^ Charles Pope (May 31, 2011). "John Bryson brings Portland roots as nominee to lead Commerce Department". The Oregonian. Retrieved 2011-10-24.
  19. ^ Ezra Ace Caraeff (April 26, 2007). "Your New Favorite Band?". Portland Mercury.
  20. ^ Manning, Jeff; James Long (April 23, 2002). "Losing All That Mattered to Him". The Oregonian. p. A1.
  21. ^ "Knight in Shining Armor?". OregonLive. 2005. Retrieved 2006-12-04.
  22. ^ Ellen Spitaleri (February 23, 2011). "10 Questions for Anna Prosser". Portland Tribune.
  23. ^ David Walker (June 11, 2003). "Heavy Metal Half-Life". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2018-01-12.