No School, But There Will Be a Washington High School Reunion

It’s hard enough to organize a 40th class reunion. But when your school has been closed since 1981, the task is even harder.

Washington High School alum Charlene Myers Zaharakis has taken it upon herself to bring old copies of the high school newspaper around Portland to jog the memories of anyone who went or who knows anyone else who went to school in the all-but-abandoned building.

She and a few old pals hope a lot of folks will show up for the reunion party from 6 to 10 p.m. this Saturday at Clyde’s on Sandy Boulevard – but it seems people still haven’t heard about it.

Partly, she says, it’s because the student community scattered when district officials voted to shut the school down.

“It’s like when the parents sell the family home in a way, it’s even worse though because you have a lot of people feeling that,” she says. “Our history has been decimated in a way.”

Washington High School’s Wikipedia pages notes that its graduates include such beloved figures as Nobel Prize-winning scientist Linus Pauling, and The Skanner News’ own jazz columnist, the late Dick Bogle; not on that list but still revered are athletes Charles Stoudamire and Donnie McPherson.

Originally built in 1906, Washington was once one of the most ornate and respected schools in the city. Its original four-story gothic splendor burned to the ground in 1922. Rebuilt in brick, Washington gained a gym in 1947, and merged with Monroe High School in the late 1970s.

Soon after, declining enrollment and weakening financial support for public education led Portland Public Schools to resolve on shuttering several high schools.

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