The Cleveland Journal

Race and equity education expands to student team

By Anna Ni & Maxwell Brooke, Staff reporters
Note: A reprint from The Cleveland Journal

Joseph Lenzo
Joseph Lenzo believes it is important for schools to focus on eliminating opportunity gaps

In a country where students of color have surpassed the white enrollment in public schools, conversations around racial equity are becoming a necessity. In order to facilitate a better relationship between a diverse student body and a predominantly white teaching staff, Cleveland’s race and equity team have made it their goal for teachers to become more aware of racial injustices, implicit bias and integrate race and equity in the classroom. Restorative Circle Coordinator Chev Gary said school leaders make sure racial equity is held high at Cleveland by incorporating it during staff training. “Over the course of the time our racial equity team has existed, our administrators have done a really good job of prioritizing all-staff learning time and focusing it around things that support racial equity in our school,” Gary said. “It’s important for the staff time to be something that supports teachers, but also end up supporting students.” Math teacher Joseph Lenzo is a newer member of the race and equity team. He believes the workaround racial equity at school is important for eliminating large opportunity gaps between white students and students of color.

“Our goal is basically to eliminate racist conditions in school in order to allow all students to thrive, be supported, and to have access to quality education,” Lenzo said.

“It’s all about the students and really just making the conditions right for everyone to be successful and trying to fight historic prejudice in the system.”

Chev Gary
Chev Gary is a restorative circle coordinator and a member of the Race- &-Equity-team

While Cleveland does its best to combat racism, people are not perfect and incidents still occur. What happens when a conflict regarding race and equity arises in a classroom? Gary said most of the time students are impacted because of either miscommunication that has to do with race and identity or microaggressions – brief and common daily behaviors, whether intentional or not, that end up sending negative and derogatory messages towards specific people or groups of people. For example, a microaggression would be a teacher failing to properly pronounce a student’s name even after they have been corrected.

“A lot of the time there isn’t anything that happens after microaggressions occur, and that’s the problem,” said Lenzo. “So, what we try to do in our professional development is to allow teachers to process and see those incidents that they may not have noticed before,” Gary stated that larger incidents tend to be brought to him or his restorative circle partner, Jamil Harding, because students are able to request restorative circles, which allows them and their teachers to mend relationships, making them a key resource in improving the environment at school in regards to race and equity. In addition, Cleveland’s race and equity team now include a student group. This team is new, but members of the race and equity team believed it was important to hear student voices in order to know how to best support them.

Sophomore Ismahan Weheylie was invited to be a part of the student Race & Equity team.
Sophomore Ismahan
Weheylie was invited to be a part of the student Race & Equity team.

Sophomore member Ismahan Weheylie is on the student equity team. “We just come together once every two weeks, and we talk about important issues and how we can come together as a community and school to solve them,” Weheylie said. Weheylie said the discussions are important so students can talk about how to improve the school community. “You don’t just come here for school; it’s a place where you should feel comfortable and safe in,” she said. Though students had to be teacher-nominated in order to participate in meetings, current members are working on finding a way to be more inclusive towards all students who may be interested in sharing their voice. “Already, that’s forcing us to have to come up with a method where students can nominate students,” said Gary. “Because maybe there are people who can really enjoy being a part of that team and make an impact.”

Cleveland High School Seattle Washington

An exciting school year with much to celebrate

Dear Cleveland High School Family:

This Principal Update comes from Catherine Brown, assistant principal since 2014, and interim principal while Mr. Breland is recovering from knee replacement surgery. Mr. Breland is expected back at the end of January.

It’s been an exciting school year with much to celebrate. We continue to grow our enrollment and are getting very close to filling our buildings to their physical capacity with 913 students. This year we reviewed some post-high school academic data and learned that increasing numbers of Cleveland students are directly enrolling and persisting in college (including vocational and apprenticeship programs) after high school. In fact, our class of 2017 had the highest percentage of African-American students enrolling in college in all of South King County.

Fall sports teams enjoyed great successes, with a brand-new slow pitch team debuting, volleyball and football teams making it to playoffs, cross-country and girls’ swim teams competing at Metros, and our boys’ Ultimate Frisbee team winning the state championship! It’s a first for Cleveland or any other south Seattle high school to win at state. Go Eagles!

We’ve had some great connections with families this fall as well—from a well-attended Eagle Night in October to busy student-led conferences in November. We appreciate the feedback families have given us and their support of students. Our PTSA is hard at work planning this year’s auction (scheduled for Friday, April 24) and has been supporting various classroom and school projects with
funds raised from last year.

Students have also been hard at work this fall; in addition to their academics, students have put on a variety of events and fundraisers through the Associated Student Body (ASB), including a marvelous Multicultural Night celebration and a well-attended Homecoming Dance and spirit week. Our Link Crew program continues to use selected and trained 11th and 12th graders to support 9th graders through mentorship and community-building.

Cleveland continues to be recognized as an especially caring and inclusive school community, where students are challenged and supported. Thanks, alumni, for your support!

Sincerely,
Catherine Brown, Assistant Principal
Cleveland High School


Catherine Brown, Assistant Principal CHS

Follow Ms. Brown on Twitter: @msbrownchs
Send her an email: cmbrown@seattleschools.org
Connect with Ms. Brown on LinkedIn

CHSAA Scholarship Recipient

Gwyneth Gras-Usry

Gwyneth was raised in a two-parent household that was supportive of her educational endeavors. She needed extra time and extra help due to her Asperger’s syndrome, which was diagnosed early in life. She has maintained a near-perfect GPA and has been accepted at the University of Washington. She plans on studying science.

Gwyneth wants to be in the field of math and science and believes she can make a difference by applying her skills in fields where women are underrepresented. She is dedicated to her studies, has worked an outside job, and is known to her teachers to be bright and always prepared.

CHSAA Scholarship Recipient

Brandon Teeny

Brandon came to CHS from a homeschool background and jumped in with both feet. He has taken a full load of math and science classes and participated in CHS varsity golf, baseball and tennis. Brandon has been a videographer for CHS Publications and served on the ASB cabinet. Brandon worked for three years with the Pacific Science Center (Discovery Corp) in 6-month stints. He began in a Robot Internship, then a Planetarium Internship, progressing to the role of Senior Interpreter 2 which included training volunteers and employees. He honed his public speaking skills by producing live shows.

Brandon extracurricular activities include:

  • Global Visionaries, 3 years, including immersion in a building construction project and Spanish in Guatemala.
  • Church activities and First Tee Mentoring and Leadership program.

Oh, yes, and Brandon managed to maintain a 3.974 GPA in his spare time! Brandon is thankful that, in his junior year, one of his teachers observed that he had a rather negative outlook on life. Fortunately, he had the good sense to change that.

The result, he says, was that his ”senior year has been a blast academically, athletically, and socially.”

What’s next for Brandon? He is attending Valparaiso University near Chicago. Fascinated by meteorology since competing in the Science Olympiad and predicting weather in an NOAA program, he will study to be a meteorologist. Brandon hopes to use the Spanish language he has studied for five years in his career and wants to help people understand and prepare for adverse weather.

CHSAA Scholarship Recipient

Johairah Bongato

Johairah received a scholarship to pursue her dream of becoming an environmental engineer. She will study at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is familiar with the setting as she has been part of the Outward Bound program. She became involved with the study of energy using wind turbines and won a regional competition with her teammates.

Activities at school and in the community include track and field, biking, president of the Filipino Club and pep band. She has worked part-time throughout high school.

Her letters of recommendation are highlighted with high praise for her leadership skills, intelligence, and hard work.

Johairah has faced many struggles in her home life but always has a smile on her face. Her parents are moving to the Philippines and have little or no financial or emotional support for her. She has been homeless but has not given up and continues to move forward.

CHSAA Scholarship Recipient

Andrew Cornel

Andrew will be going to the U of W in Bothell. He plans to study communications with public health or business administration. As a Filipino-American, he wants to increase the presence of people of color in the newsroom and in the profession of journalism.

His school activities included being Senior Class President, Filipino Club president, lead anchor and reporter Cleveland Publications, Cleveland Singsations Choir (co-founder/ Officer) and CHS PTSA student representative. He has also received multiple honors for his journalism and video broadcasting work.

While pursuing his studies, he received many accolades for his leadership and organization skills, his drive to get better at all things, and his compassion and humility.

He steps up when he sees a need whether helping secure auction items or organizing the journalism program’s processes. His recommendation letters proclaimed his character and ethics.

Andrew’s community-oriented activities have included teacher assistant, St. Edward School volunteer, food distributer at a food bank, and a food sorter and packager for Food Lifeline.

He was an altar server at church, a singer/guitarist in a multicultural choir, and a musician for Ana AHanu ‘L Ku’uleialoha.

The CHS alumni association is proud to support his academic pursuits.

CHSAA Scholarship Recipient

Jessica Louie

Jessica was a scholarship recipient and plans to attend the University of Washington in Seattle where she has been accepted into their Direct to Computer Science program. She maintained a 4.0 GPA and developed a diverse set of skills always looking for the ‘why’ behind concepts. She was active in Girls Who Code, was part of the Running Start program and was president of the National Honor Society. She was influenced by her aunt, who taught her about hard work, good family values, and that perseverance is the key to success. Jessica also took AP courses and was always working ahead of her class. She received an AP Scholar Award. She volunteered at the Jefferson Community Center and UW Making Connections.

She was also part of All Girl Everything Frisbee Program – a grassroots tackling social justice issues activity.

Her sports activities include Soccer (team captain in 2018) and Varsity Frisbee.

She wants to use her degree in the computer science fields to attain an executive position and be an influence in mentoring and encouraging women to do the same.

Jessica’s hobbies include: playing guitar, sketching and drawing.

CHSAA Scholarship Recipient

Calvin Fung

A lecture from Dr. Adam D. Leache, an Environmental Scientist, through University of Washington Math Science Upward Bound (MSUB) program, inspired Calvin Fung to expand his appreciation for the outdoors from a hobby to a major in environmental science. His junior and senior year extracurricular activities centered around sustainability efforts on campus. Calvin joined the Green Team, a student-led club with hands-on activities in the school garden and fundraising to advocate for small changes in the school. He collected dried whiteboard markers from classroom teachers and mailed them to the Crayola Company to repurpose the plastic and reduce the impact of dense plastic waste on the environment.

The professors in the summer Upward Bound program as well as his teachers at Cleveland High School commended Calvin’s work ethic and energy and believe he will rise to the rigor of college coursework.

In the fall of 2019, Calvin has begun his pursuit of an Environmental Science degree at the University of Washington in Seattle.

CHSAA Scholarship Recipient

Katelin Sayachith

Katelin is one of our deserving recipients of the CHSAA scholarships. Katelin will be attending the University of Washington next year in its pre-sciences program and has already been accepted early into Oregon State University’s College of Pharmacy. Katelin’s experience with helping in the care of her grandfather inspired her to enter into the field of pharmacy, and she will be embarking on her eight-year journey toward that goal next year. Katelin has proven herself dedicated both to her academics and her extracurricular pursuits. She was noted by her AP Chemistry teacher as a standout student in her academic performance, but also a student who inspires and encourages the best from her peers (as exemplified in her project-based learning projects).

Katelin took on a leadership position in the HOSA (Future Health Professionals of America) club and it was noted by her club advisor of the impact she made on that group and the legacy she will leave behind for future HOSA leaders. She has performed community work with the King County HPV Vaccine Champions Campaign and the Rainier Valley Food Drive.

She has been an active member in both the Key Club and the National Honor Society and has been a varsity golf team and JV tennis team player. In addition, Katelin worked in the Seattle Public School’s Team Read program for two years.

A statement from her AP Chemistry teacher sums it up

“Bottom line, Katelin is the full package of a student: intelligent, hard-working, collaborative, and a young woman of high character.”

Congratulations to Katelin,. We wish her the best in her endeavors

Jessica Louie

Jessica Louie

Jessica plans to attend the U of W in Seattle where she has been accepted into their Direct to Computer Science program.
She maintained a 4.0 GPA and developed a diverse set of skills always looking for the ‘why’ behind concepts. She was active in Girls Who Code, was part of the Running Start program and was president of the National Honor Society.
She was influenced by her aunt, who taught her about hard work, good family values, and that perseverance is the key to success. Jessica also took AP courses and was always working ahead of her class. She received an AP Scholar Award.
She volunteered at the Jefferson Community Center and UW Making Connections. She was also part of All Girl Everything Frisbee Program – a grassroots tackling social justice issues activity.
Her sports activities include Soccer (team captain in 2018) and Varsity Frisbee.
She wants to use her degree in the computer science fields to attain an executive position and be an influence in mentoring and encouraging women to do the same.
Her hobbies include: playing guitar, sketching and drawing.
Softball players Vicki Ly, left, Fiona Clayton and head coach Rebecca Williams Leach cheer after their team is announced as a nominee for Team of the Year.

2nd Annual Talon Awards

A reprint from the Cleveland Journal. Pictured above: Softball players Vicki Ly, left, Fiona Clayton and head coach Rebecca Williams Leach cheer after their team is announced as a nominee for Team of the Year. Photo by Mauricio Vasquez.

After making it to the district tournament for the first time in Cleveland’s history, the Eagles softball team was named Team of the Year at the 2nd Annual Talon Awards, an all-sports banquet honoring Cleveland’s student-athletes.

Athletes and their families, along with coaches and their assistants, filled the gym, which was decorated with balloons and banners. A buffet barbecue dinner was served.

Media teacher Teresa Scribner and athletic director Jon Hughes organized the event, which is modeled after ESPN’s Espy Awards, with categories like Male and Female Athlete of the Year, Comeback Athlete of the Year and Fan Favorite.

For the Breakout Performance category, there was no shortage of talent. Six athletes were nominated; they all took home awards.

Kezia Cook was one of the nominees for her stellar softball season. Although this was her first time playing the sport, Cook put up a solid performance on the field. She said the hardest part of the sport was actually learning how to play.

“There were a lot of rules that I didn’t understand,” she said.

Cook felt good after winning because all the hard work and support from her teammates and coaches did not go to waste.

Other nominees for Breakthrough Performance were Liann Tran, Matthew Dietz, Martrez Darden, Ciera Davis, and Angus Vlasaty.

Daniel Hamilton oaches wrestling, track and cross country.
Daniel Hamilton coaches wrestling, track and cross country. Photo by Brandon Trujillo.

Duel-sport Athlete Breona Devers was a big winner for the night. She took home the award for Best Female Athlete and was a member of the softball team, who took home Team of the Year honors. Devers was also the winner of the Talon Award’s highest honor: Most Valuable Eagle.

“I feel special because they recognized me, even though I wasn’t looking to be recognized,” Devers said.

According to softball coach Rebecca Williams Leach, it was Devers’ contributions off the field that made her an MVE.

“Breona has served on the Athletes for Social Justice Committee, she is a captain of both the basketball and softball teams and she is the model of leadership, responsibility, and integrity for every athlete in our programs,” Williams Leach wrote in her nomination.

Devers shared MVE honors with Daniel Hamilton. According to Scribner, the three-sport assistant coach was a no-brainer.
“Dan coaches wrestling; he coaches track and cross country,” Scribner said. “The fact that he also helps out in the computer science classes was just the icing on the cake. He had to win.”
Hamilton appeared shocked when his name was called.

“It’s really surprising,” he said. “It caught me off guard, but it’s a huge honor.”

Although there were many individual nominees, there was no shortage when it came to the awards dedicated to teams. Girls golf took home the Scholar Team award and boys Ultimate Frisbee was crowned Fan Favorite based on an online vote. Girls Ultimate came in second in the voting.

Junior Molly House and senior Aram Gould tied for Athlete of the Year, while Dominic Jacobs was named Male Athlete of the Year. Freshman Jadyn Smiley was named Freshman Athlete of the Year. She has been playing softball since she was little, and said athletes should never give up.

“Keep coming back, come to all the practices, put in all your effort, all your time, and I promise you, you’ll get to your achievements and you’ll do big things,” she said.

The nominees were selected by coaches then narrowed down by a select group who worked directly or closely with sports programs at the school. According to Scribner, the nomination process was a difficult one.

“We try to give the coaches enough time to evaluate their players and submit nominations, but we really need them in the voting room advocating for their players to win,” she said.
Scribner said the process took so long that the trophies were not ordered in time for the ceremony. Winners received certificates and trophies were handed out at a later date.

Senior (Class of 2019) Kendra Okoro goes up to bat against Juanita in the first round of district playoffs on May 13. The softball team finished with a 14-6 record, capping a historic season.

Staff reporter Katrina Nguyen contributed to the reporting of this story.

George L Breland, Principal CHS

Welcome to the 2019-20 School Year

I hope your summer was restful and refreshing. We look forward to continuing our partnership with our wonderful parents/guardians. Our mission is to prepare our students for real-world success by providing all students with a personalized relevant and rigorous education. Our vision is to prepare, push and produce students that will be competitive in a global economy, critical/divergent thinkers and problem solvers, and students that are capable of thriving in diverse environments.

This year we are focusing on creating equity by building independent learners. Studies have shown that students who take ownership of their learning and know-how to navigate the system fare much better in our academic environment. We want to teach students how to navigate Cleveland through collegial collaboration, student voice, and problem-solving. We will also continue to focus on improving our student engagement through rigorous project-based learning and culturally responsive teaching methods. We know that authentic, rigorous, well-scaffolded projects with connections to life experiences outside of school will eliminate opportunity gaps and boost deeper learning for all students.

Finally, we are committed to improving family engagement by listening to parents and improving our methods of communication with parents. Currently, information is available

  • through our website: which communicates news and updates and includes  contact information for school staff,
  • through Remind app: there is a general school account that parents can sign up for, as well as its widespread use by teachers in classrooms,
  • through social media feeds provided by Cleveland Publications—Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all have a steady feed of school news as well as the opportunity to message C-Pub directly with questions.

We are happy to announce that Cleveland’s graduation rate has continued to improve from 67 percent five years ago to over 91 percent in the 2017-18 school year. This is the 6th consecutive year of Cleveland High School receiving the School of Distinction Award, a state-wide award recognizing schools that made the greatest gains in academic outcomes for students. We have more students enrolling in four-year universities than ever before.
Cleveland Eagles keep soaring because the sky is not the limit but the foundation!

Sincerely,

George L Breland
Principal Cleveland High School