CHS honor: 'U.S. Performing Arts School of Excellence'
On October 8, at the Cleveland High School (CHS) sports field, representatives of the National Federation of State High School Associations arrived to reveal that the school had been selected as its 2020 NFHS "Performing Arts School of Excellence".
"Every fall, just one high school in the entire United States receives this NFHS Performing Arts School of Excellence distinction, in recognition of its exemplary commitment to the performing arts," explained NFHS spokesperson James Weaver. "Cleveland becomes the fifth annual winner of this award, and the first recipient based in an urban setting!"
On the playing field that day were CHS staff and students – representing the school's choirs, bands, drama and theater program, dance teams, and its debate teams.
All smiles, behind his mask, was Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero. He exclaimed, "What an honor to be here as Cleveland High receives this national award! This is an excellent acknowledgment of this school's emphasis on arts education."
Asked about his enthusiasm for these programs, even though they're not "core curriculum", Guerrero told THE BEE, "As a classically trained violinist who was an education major in college, I understand the power and the potential of the arts in our schools. I will always continue to be a champion for arts in our schools, because they give us an opportunity to identify and cultivate the gifts of our students."
During the ceremony, Guerrero acknowledged, "We are very proud of our students and educators Cleveland High. Kudos to the Cleveland community!"
Before the program began, CHS Principal Jo Ann Wadkins talked with THE BEE about the award. "Even as a new Principal here, this really shows me the dedication and the talent of our students and our faculty and coaches. It's going to be a great inspiration!"
Now in his sixth year at Cleveland High, Director of Bands Gary Riler said the school currently has some 140 students in his music program. He described this particular school year as "a real challenge, for sure; but with Zoom, and other tools, our musical program goes on."
CHS Choir Director Allison Bassett agreed – echoing that her program's 120 students are also stepping up to the challenges of online education. "But, the kids are really positive; we're continuing to create community, and our students are focusing on what they can do, rather than what they cannot do.
"It means the world to me that our school has been recognized as a place where students can truly express themselves artistically, as well as be in community with other students," Bassett said.
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