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A graduate of the historic high school steps up to drive an updating of its stylistic identity

DAVID F. ASHTON - Cleveland High School staffers Jacque Fitzgerald and Tim Graham, and Claire Millon preview for THE BEE the schools new logo, emblazoned on shirts - which, minutes later, were given to all students and staff members. On Thursday, January 31, during an afternoon all-school assembly that filled every seat in the capacious Auditorium, Cleveland High School (CHS) students and staff were introduced to their school's new identity.

No, they're not going back to their original 1916 name, "Commercial High School", nor as – they were renamed only a year later – "High School of Commerce"; or even the name they took on when the campus moved east, across the Willamette River to its current location in 1929, the "Clinton Kelly High School of Commerce". This storied school remains "Cleveland High".

"Actually, we've been working with a committee of students, faculty and alum in a 'rebranding' project," explained Nike Graphic Identity Group Art Director Paul Sullivan, before the assembly began.

"To us, 'rebranding' is creating a new logotype and [graphic identity] system based on the school's rich history; and, at the same time, setting them up for what's to come in the future," Sullivan told THE BEE.

After researching the school's history, and meeting with the committee, Sullivan and his artists at Nike developed a new "primary logo", a secondary logo, and "word-marks" – a textual representation of the school's "brand". "The school's colors, the green and yellow, are very strong, and are part of their history," Sullivan noted. "So, the effort we focused on was modifying the 'C' logo style into something they can use, with pride, in the years to come."

Asked if there was a connection between the rebranding project and the company's founder, former Eastmoreland resident and 1955 CHS graduate Phil Knight, Sullivan replied, "His vision and aspiration are probably the biggest tie, as far as how we work in this design group; committing to the best."

According to CHS Special Projects Coordinator Jan Watt, "Portland Public Schools Zone 6" Board Member Julia Brim-Edwards, a NIKE employee and a former Cleveland parent, had asked Graphic Identity Group to consider the project.

The "big reveal" at the CHS assembly began with a corporate image video narrated by Phil Knight. Then, in a professional presentation of "T.E.D. Talk" quality, Sullivan explained how their research of Cleveland High led to the development of the new logo.

After that, members of the committee were invited onto the stage – where they all peeled off their outerwear to reveal the new gold logo on a crisp green T-shirt.

Just before dismissing the students back to their classes, everyone got one more surprise: All of the staff and students received a new T-shirt featuring the new branding for the school.

CHS Principal Ayesha Freeman commented on the project: "It allows us a tremendous opportunity to celebrate our school, and our greater school community, in a way that brings us together and brings a stronger sense of who we are!

"I am completely starry-eyed – feeling excited, and even more than that, humbled – that Nike 'said yes' to partnering with us, and were willing and eager to create our school's visual identity, pro bono, with us," she said.

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