A few months after students left the 61-year-old Madison High School in June 2019, they began commuting to the former Marshall High School four miles south. Then, 6½ months later, the pandemic forced them from brick-and-mortar learning to online studies for the remainder of that school year and much of the next.
But now returning students – and new ones – are back on track. When classes begin later this month, the north–east 82nd Avenue campus re-opens with an all-new look, modernized facilities and a new name: Leodis V. McDaniel.
One incoming freshman said she’s excited about beginning high school, and enthusiastic about the new facilities and new name.
“It’s a little harder to get used to the new name because I’m so used the old one,” reported Concordian Clementine Wykhuis. “I’m glad they changed it to something important. I’m glad they changed it to what they did.”
In February, the Portland Public Schools board dropped the name of former president and documented slave owner James Madison. The school’s name now honors its popular former teacher and principal who was, according to Willamette Week, also a Madison alumnus.
Leodis McDaniel served as vice principal and then principal during the 1970s and 1980s, and he is credited for steering the school through desegregation.
Madison High School’s teams, the Senators, are taking on a new name that’s not as local as Leodis McDaniel, but rooted in the region: Mountain Lions.
This won’t be Clementine’s first move into a modernized school. She was in 5th grade when Faubion re-opened after a major remodel that included state-of-the-art facilities.
“Faubion used to be an old, run down building, and I got to see that trans–form into a very nice new school like McDaniel.”
Like other Concordia students, she had the choice between McDaniel and Jefferson. A video conference introduction to McDaniel clinched the deal. “I was amazed and impressed by all the exciting things McDaniel has to offer.”
The more than 290,000-square-foot school includes 170,000 square feet of new construction to serve a student body of 1,700. It was financed through the 2017 $790 million bond approved by voters planned originally to modernize four schools.
Highlights include a new cafeteria, commons and atrium, along with a science wing, performing arts theater, athletics facilities, and community and career technical education resources.
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.