The student-run newspaper of Cleveland High School


The student-run newspaper of Cleveland High School


The student-run newspaper of Cleveland High School


Racist Incident On Campus

Clarion photo Darby Whorton
East wing water fountain, which is similar in design to the science wing drinking fountain where the racist signage was placed.

A letter went out to Cleveland families and students Friday, Jan. 12 at 10:30 a.m. in regards to an incident on Jan. 11, a Thursday. In the science wing, a student found two handwritten labels on the water fountains and reported it to Campus Safety. One was designated for “colored,” and one for “whites.” The signs were documented and removed.

This incident is one of several recent, significant acts of anonymous racism since the spring of 2019, when there was a racist cake made in the culinary class, to the fall of 2019, when various hateful symbols were etched onto various surfaces within the school, to 2021, when a racial slur was spelled out in large letters on the wall of the cafeteria.

Cleveland is not known for its racial diversity. In 2019 the student population of Cleveland was 68 percent white, 10 percent Hispanic/Latino, 9 percent Asian, 8 percent Mixed, and 3 percent African American. Almost seven out of 10 given students are white, according to the most recent data from the Oregon Department of Education.

In an email to students and families, Principal JoAnn Wadkins emphasized that this incident has serious negative effects for BIPOC students.

“This incident is an affront to our core values of Racial Equity and Social Justice, Respect, Honesty, and Integrity. […] This incident will impact members of our school community disparately. Cleveland is a predominantly white school, and I would encourage white students to reflect on how they do or don’t exercise their privilege and power to provide allyship. […] It is our shared responsibility as a school community to operationalize this mission through intentional, anti-racist work so that our message of inclusivity rings true.”

Regarding this, Cleveland’s School Success Advocate Charles Hunter worked with the administration to help students process the incident.

“I thought it was handled as best as it could have been, because the first thing that the administration did was consult me and others to let us know what had taken place and to hear our input. I thought that was good. I believe that the administration and the majority of the staff members don’t condone that type of behavior, and that they felt insulted from it as much as anyone else. Then, after the administration had done that, then they wrote up something that went out to the parents and the community. If there was anything else that needed to be done, I felt like they would have done it,” Hunter said.

Cleveland administration has not disclosed if the person or persons responsible were identified, nor have any preventative measures been publicized for the rest of the semester or next year. The Campus Security Agents have dedicated a significant amount of time to investigating everything.

“I haven’t heard exactly who did it. I can say, I have an idea. [Most have assumed it was] someone being humorous or funny, more than about racial overtones, but it was a slap in the face to everybody. Especially at the time that they did it, which was the Martin Luther King celebration weekend. Of all the times for them to do it, after all that he had done and sacrificed–including giving his life–and that this happened going into Black History Month? I think it is not funny,” Hunter said.

Contributor: Alex Valliere

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About the Contributors
Lily Lockwood-Keil
Lily Lockwood-Keil, News and Commentary Editor
Hi! I'm a junior and I'm really excited to edit during my second year with the Clarion (which is also my second year at Cleveland overall). I most enjoy writing about school-wide administrative changes, city-wide political news, and student opinions. During my free time, I like to make zines, write fiction, travel, and explore with my friends!
Darby Whorton, Photographer
I'm Darby Whorton, an avid photographer, writer, film enthusiast and I even write screenplays every now and again if I'm bored. I even help take photos and record videos for my best friend's youtube channel. I do street photography in downtown Portland whenever I get the chance as well.

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