On Lincoln

I pause my special about Homelessness in Portland to share a combination of interviews that have already been featured on Hey Hank. I am featuring this in preparation for the upcoming 147th anniversary. This special will also be featured in the school newspaper. Enjoy. 

Over the past 147 years, Lincoln High School has become one of Portland’s leading Public Schools. Day in day and day out, many people either don’t know, or simply forget, the history that is inside our halls. All it takes is talking to three people to really understand the past, present and future that is in store for our school.

In order to look back, we must look to someone who has walked our halls in the past. A graduate from the class of XX, Tom Goldman is currently a reporter for National Public Radio. Here, Goldman offers a unique perspective at one of the biggest stories of 2015: the Shooting in Umpqua Community College in Roseburg.

“Going through an experience like the shooting, you don’t just move on. It’s very taxing. And while you are doing [you job], you have to keep your emotions in check as a reporter. You are there to do a job.”

On October 1, Christopher Harper-Mercer opened fired on a class full of his own peers before turning on himself. Tom Goldman was one of the lead reporters who covered the event that took 10 lives.

“He has the power because he has the gun. And if you don’t have a gun, there is little to do.”

The solution to this event is not that everyone should have a gun. What went wrong in this scenario is not that there were too few guns but there were too many.

“We have to do something. Harper-Mercer had 14 guns. That’s not right. That has nothing to do with people who legally and smartly have a concealed weapon or want to go hunting. There’s a huge gap between those two. But for some reason we can’t close that gap.”

Over the past decade there have been 24 terrorism related killings in our nation. Over the same amount of time, around 80,024 people have died by guns.

“There is nothing in the history of this nation that has taken this many lives and has been treated with such nonchalance. We are supposed to be the leaders of the free world but we are behind when it comes to this issue. Some would argue that we are at a state of war with ourselves.”

The future of gun laws in this nation continues to look bleak, Goldman argues.

“Until we solve the root of the issue that is the abundance and of automatic weapons in this nation, history will continue to repeat itself and those 80,024 would have died in vain.”

In order to understand the present day of Lincoln, there is no better person to talk to then a current teacher at the school. As Lincoln looks to win their sixth national Constitution title, head coach of almost 15 years, Steve Griffith continues to do what he loves: teach students how to teach themselves.

The Constitution Team (or Con Team) is an extracurricular where 36 kids prepare for nine months for a competition. At the competition they field questions about the United States Constitution. The team couldn’t have gotten to where they are today without the help of their coach, Griffith.

Within six years, Lincoln has gone to the National Constitution Competition four times (working on their fourth run as we speak) and won first place twice.

“I try to get my students to think freshly about the world and show them that they have enormous potential and can make a difference.”

Griffith coaches Constitution Team for one specific reason: to make students aware of their potential. He believes in making a student aware of their learning as opposed to teaching the student facts.

“Having a student learn is one thing-but it’s not as important as having a student love to learn. You can be the smartest person, but to me you are an unspent coin if you don’t put it to greater causes. I am trying to create citizens.”

Once we see the kinds of people that leave Lincoln as well as those who teach at Lincoln, we must finally look at the future of Lincoln’s leadership. Peyton Chapman remains a controversial, yet beloved principle, as she lays out her plans for our future Lincoln.

Lincoln High School is one of Portland’s largest and most highly regarded public schools. At almost 200 percent capacity, it’s Chapman’s job to insure that, every day, 1,700 kids that come in and out of school and have a room where they can have class, which has proven a strangely difficult job.

“The teachers’ contract explains that teachers can’t teach more than 180 students. Although they are ideally they are teaching no more than 134 students,” says Chapman. “We are out of classrooms. There is no place to put [students]. Lincoln is a high demand school.It has a great reputation and students don’t want to transfer out.”

Her solution?:  a new Lincoln.

“We need a new school. Ours is built for 900, it was a stretch when we had 1,350 students. There is nothing worth saving.”

Chapman is crossing her fingers for the 2016 bond that will fund the construction of a new building.

“I will be extremely disappointed if after eight years of work, the bond doesn’t get passed.”

The bond is worth 500,000,000. The bond would create a new school on the current campus. It would be built on the opposite side of the track as the current building..

“This is the only building of its kind in the state on 11 acres, in the heart of the biggest city in the state, next to PSU which is slated to grow to the size of University of Washington by 2025. We are not moving anywhere.”

The outcome of this bond is in Chapman’s hands. She has been telling the story of Lincoln for the past eight years.This year, it’s Chapman’s shot for her hard work to finally pay off.

“It is time to reinvest in rebuilding our schools,” Chapman concludes.

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