Conor’s Compliments: A holiday piano man


Clarion photo Anna Rollins

Sing us a song, you’re the Piano Man.

By Conor Bergin, Editor-in-Chief

Twas the night before a certain winter holiday (This is a public school, I’m not really supposed to say “Christmas.” Whoops). And all through Cleveland High, not a creature was stirring, not even Mr. Trezise (Shoutout!). The lockers stood empty, decorated with care, in hopes that grand compliments soon would be there. The students were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of Clarion ink danced in their heads. When out on the lawn, there arose such a clatter, the students sprang from bed to see what was the matter. Out on the lawn, with great bravado and flash, stood Conor the Compliment-Giver, making his yearly compliment dash! The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow, shone brightly on a microphone and grand piano. Then the Compliment-Giver, styled in black shades and a Santy Claus hat, shouted to the students, “I hope you all like to sing! This year I will give my compliments through caroling!” And with that he began his night of Cleveland-themed holiday hits.


It is official. Phantom snow days have become a staple of the Portland holiday tradition.  Every winter, a paranoid PPS overreacts to a small amount of precipitation and cancels school without a flake of snow on the ground. These snow–or rather “ice”–days baffle parents and make us a laughingstock to states such as Minnesota. However, the tradition of the Ice Day also serves as the unsung hero of school in the winter. Who doesn’t want a day off from school, no matter how cheap it is? I am going to miss these ice days next year and it is with this spirit in mind that I present you this first holiday tune. The song is about a Cleveland student explaining to his confused mom that school is cancelled. This less-predatory version of a holiday classic pokes fun at the way PPS seemingly cancels school when it’s cold outside.


You really can’t stay

(But Mom, it’s cold outside)

You’ve got school today

(But Mom, it’s cold outside)


This morning weather has been

(Was hoping that I’d sleep in)

So very nice

(Look at the roads! They’re just like ice!)


It’s not sticking, what’s your worry

(Patience Mom, what’s your hurry)

Your father says get out the door

(The car will slide, you can be sure)


No, really you’d better scurry

(Patience Mom, please don’t hurry)

Well maybe just two hours more

And then maybe four hours more


What does Zaffino think?

(He says it’s bad out there)

Say, what’s in his drink?

(Zaffino says you’ll be had out there)


I wish he knew how

(I can’t take that test right now)

To predict weather well

(I didn’t study, if you can’t tell)


I ought to say “No, no, no, sir”

(PPS just announced Cleveland’s closure)

At least I’m gonna say that I tried

(What’s the point? Your chances have died)


You really should be in school

(Ah Mom, just let me have this one)

Well it is pretty cold outside

(Ah but it’s cold outside!)


I hope you cool cats liked that tune. Now for a follow-up: My next song praises the work of the Leadership class in their battle to change the culture around Cleveland dances and make winter formal a reality. What better way to send the group holiday cheer than with a take on Bruce Springsteen’s classic cover of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town?” Because everybody could use a little bit of the Boss, especially around the holidays.



It’s all cold down along the beach, well, it’s Oregon, Bruce, so it’s always cold on the beach.

Winds whipping down the boardwalk

Hey Cleveland! You guys know what time of year it is!?

(It’s winter time!)

Oh winter time! You guys all been good and practicing real hard

So Santa can bring you a new winter formal?

Everybody out there been good or what!?


You better watch out

You better not grind

You better not walk out I’m telling you why


Winter Formal’s coming to town (x3)


Leadership’s making a list, they’re checking it twice

You might even be breathalyzed


Winter Formal’s coming to town (x3)


They see you when you’re drinking

They know when you are baked

They know if you’ve been bad or good

So you better be good for goodness sake

(Why don’t you just take a date?)


Conor the Compliment-Giver sang compliment-filled songs deep into the night for all to hear. He sang songs such as “All I Want for Christmas is Staab Chemistry” and “Jan Watt Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” As he finished his final ballad and the sun coated the grounds with a glow, he packed up his mic and closed up his piano. He had delivered compliments to the Cleveland community for years, but always returned because he loved it so. But knowing that this would be his final go, he smiled fondly, and didn’t look back as he ventured off into the snow.