Cleveland Wins National Performing Arts Award

By Yanling Joslin

Cleveland has been named the national recipient of the 2020 Performing Arts School of Excellence by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS)  in a socially-distanced awards ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 8.

 Underneath gloomy Portland skies at the school’s stadium, spirits were high with administrators, teachers and student representatives from Cleveland’s band, choir, speech and debate and dance team to receive the award from Dr. James Weaver, NFHS director of performing arts and sports.

 “This award is a way to recognize the great performing arts programs around the country,” Weaver said. “The award can excite programs to grow, and we can continue to highlight the importance of performing arts within high schools. Cleveland High School has a long history of excelling at the top levels of performing arts in the state of Oregon and Section 8, and we are excited to celebrate its success.”

Cleveland’s artistic programs are no stranger to receiving awards. Throughout the years Cleveland’s band, choir, art and speech, and debate programs have amassed a number of distinguished accolades between all these amazing programs. With this award it affirms the hard work of students and staff over the years.

 “We know the arts enrich our lives and play a vital role in the culture of our school,” said Principal Jo Ann Wadkins. “We are proud of the dedication of our coaches who inspire and support our students. To see our students perform is to get a glimpse of the spirit of Cleveland High School.”

When Oregon was selected as the state where the awardee would be selected from, the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA), which oversees athletics and performing arts within Oregon, examined all the schools’ performances within the category of performing arts. Looking back 30 years into the history of Cleveland’s achievements within those areas, Peter Weber,executive president of OSAA, along with other members of the OSAA, selected Cleveland to receive this prestigious award.

“We want to thank the National Federation of State High School Associations for recognizing the Cleveland High School performing arts programs with this award of excellence,” said Guadalupe Guerrero, superintendent of Portland Public Schools. “We are really proud of our Cleveland students and educators and remain committed to ensuring access to high quality arts education for every student across all of our schools in Portland.” 

Weaver came from Indianapolis to present Wadkins the plaque. He noted that Cleveland was the fifth annual winner, and the first school from an urban setting to win this award. The NFHS gives the award each October to celebrate the performing arts.

Watch out for a follow up with students and staff of these programs.

Principal JoAnn Wadkins (left) holding award plaque just presented by Dr.James Weaver (right) of the NFHS (Clarion photo Becca )
Principal Wadkins proudly holds up plaque (Clarion photo Becca Roso)