Round Three: Cleveland 100 year celebration trivia winner … Jasper Whelan

Cleveland’s march to the future


Clarion photo Ashley Lytle

Freshman Jasper Whelan is the round three winner of the Cleveland Clarion trivia contest.

By Ashley Lytle, Reporter

What’s in a name? Well, when you are talking Grover Cleveland High School and Clinton Kelly High School of Commerce, they are one in the same. Freshman Jasper Whelan correctly named 1948 as the year Commerce changed to Cleveland becoming the round three winner of the Clarion trivia contest.

The Clarion posted the trivia quiz at its site online ( and 36 people gave the question a shot. Out of the correct 27 responders, Clarion adviser Andy Sorensen picked Whelans’ name out of a hat.

Cleveland’s story begins on Portland’s west side on Jan. 25, 1866. Located in the neighborhood that is now home to Portland State University was an elementary school named the Harrison Street School that opened for 150 students on that date. Twice it had to be rebuilt due to fires in 1879 and 1887. The school was renamed Shattuck School in 1904 in honor of Judge Erasmus D. Shattuck, a school board member.  

School officials over the next decade noticed a growing need for a school focused on economics and finance. A four-year program began developing at the old Portland High School (now known as Lincoln). In 1915 a new site was chosen at the old Shattock School for a new school. “In 1916, 428 students enrolled in the new commercial high school. 232 Lincoln students formed the core group,” according to the recently-released Cleveland history book. The school was officially named the High School of Commerce in 1917.

The school began to outgrow its building. In 1925-26 the enrollment was up to 1,045 and students were using both Shattuck School and classrooms at Lincoln High School. The elementary school was transferred from Clinton Kelly Primary to Clinton Kelly (now called Grout). The building then became occupied by the High School of Commerce. Mr. Elton was the principal at the time and began touring the country with district architect Mr. Jones in order to design a new building.

With the present day building completed in 1929, students marched from the downtown school across the Ross Island Bridge to their new digs. The new school was named the Clinton Kelly High School of Commerce, in accordance with a school board policy from 1926 to name schools after Oregon pioneers.

Fast forward to 1948 and in Portland the earlier division between vocational and academic schools was dispersing. Now schools were shifting to comprehensive high schools. The decision to change the Clinton Kelly High School of Commerce to an “all-around secondary institution,” as described in the Cleveland 100 year book, arrived in early 1948.

The loss of the name Clinton Kelly was taken hard by community members. Kelly had donated the two acres of land which the school was located on requiring that the land always be devoted to education. The buildings on the land had always donned his name as a tribute to him. Even so the decision came in August of 1948 in favor of the name change in order to comply with the growing trend of naming the high schools after presidents.

Grover Cleveland was chosen in order to respect the students’ desire to keep their beloved school letter “C.”

It was a long road for Cleveland to reach Grover Cleveland. Although the school was transformed into a comprehensive school in 1948 they still managed to maintain a focus in traditional business preserving a piece of their history.


Congratulations to:

Megan Millan, Anna Litchman, Tanner Montagriffpeck, Libby Cross, Ashton Wignall, Taylor Lewis, Hana Warmflash, Alejandro De Paz, Bella Forrest, Emily Saling, Patience Flechtner, Amanda Kimball, Ya-Li Lizik, Teddy Wyman, Devin Ishimaru, Kaytlin Gaines, Mary Roach, Kathleen Fuller, Lila Riedel, Peter Fink, Benjamin McFarland, Jasper Whelan, Alexander Buchanan, Emily Abbassian, Gunnar Gorsuch, Grace Oh, and Johnny Carr.