The student-run newspaper of Cleveland High School


The student-run newspaper of Cleveland High School


The student-run newspaper of Cleveland High School


Jan Watt Announces Retirement

The stunning announcement came at the end of the Senior Recognition Assembly
Clarion photo Ben Tierney
Jan Watt in her office a few hours after making the announcement that she was retiring from Cleveland. Watt made the announcement at the Senior Recognition Assembly to the senior class 2024, after all the other classes had been excused.

In an end that many did not want to see, Jan Watt announced her retirement on Tuesday, May 21. 


Watt made the announcement at the end of the senior recognition assembly to the class of 2024 after all the other classes in the audience had left the auditorium.


Watt stepped up to the microphone and told the class that she had something to tell them. She said she always wanted to go out with a great group of students with a full year of great memories. “I am going to graduate with you,” she said.


Everyone there gasped, witnesses said, highlighting the shocking announcement.


Watt has been at the school for 56 years, starting in 1968 as a teacher right after graduating from Portland State. She spent 35 years as the journalism teacher, and was the first woman coach of the girls basketball team. 


Watt retired in 2001, and since then has worked at the school as a volunteer as a “special projects coordinator.” In this role, she has coordinated major events each year such as Bridging the Gap, graduation ceremonies, assemblies, and standardized testing. In addition, she has been a major bridge with the school community at large, working with the Cleveland-Commerce Alumni Association and the Cleveland Foundation and other parent groups.


“There are a lot of factors that have led to this,” Watt said.  “And it’s very apparent I’ve been here a long time, but you know, in life, circumstances change and what is routine and what makes your job enjoyable wavers. And I care a lot about this place, but you know, I can’t keep going forever. And I also don’t want anybody to think that my health is an issue. My health is not an issue, and neither is my stubbornness. But there are just things that I think are best for other people to work on.”


Watt chose to make the announcement to the senior class because she said students have always been her priority the entire 56 years she has been at Cleveland, and thought after they had a great prom and recognition assembly, “what better time to say thanks for everything, and I’m going out with you. I mean, that’s just about what I said: ‘It’s been an honor and we’re leaving together.’ And I begged them to make this the best graduation we’ve ever had, so we can both feel really good about it.”


Watt was asked to stay on after her retirement in 2001 due to her institutional knowledge, and she was legendary for putting in long hours, sometimes as much as 70 hour weeks. 


“I want to be remembered as somebody who came to work every single day and did not regret it. I come to work to work. I don’t take sick days. I believe in this place. I’ve supported this place. I’ve done what I can for this place. I don’t have regrets,” Watt said. “I would like to be known as somebody that never regretted ever being here. I never left. I mean I was recruited a million places to build a journalism program and I never left. I didn’t want to leave. And I’m very much old school. I’m very much you know, let’s do it. Right? And let’s not do it at all. I believe in standards. Big time. I believe in accountability. I’m a dinosaur when it comes to stuff like that. But you know what? It works for me. It has always worked for me, and kids have responded.”


When August rolls around, Watt will feel the pain of not being a part of the daily routine and schedule, and plans to do the things most retirees do: spend more time on the golf course and visit with her vast network of friends and former students, and of course, help in spots at her beloved school.


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