Lincoln High School celebrates 150th anniversary: 'I had teachers who cared'

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Lincoln High School celebrated its 150th anniversary Saturday night with a big event highlighted by an appearance from the creator of The Simpsons.

About 1,400 people showed up to the event, dubbed The Big Party, held in the Viking Pavilion at Portland State University. Dozens of attendees, mostly alumni, also donated to the high school.

The High School was founded in 1869. It is one of the oldest public schools west of the Mississippi. The current campus was built in 1952.

The keynote speaker was Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons. He graduated from Lincoln High School in the 70s.

Groening came out on stage, standing next to a drawing of his famous character, Lisa. Lisa, he said, was named after his sister, also a Lincoln grad. He shared stories of his time as a student.

“I was late so many times, my senior year they told me if I was late one more time, I would be suspended,” Groening said.

Portland Mayor, Ted Wheeler, and former mayor, Bud Clark, were both graduates from Lincoln.

“I feel like the leadership I exert today, it came from my time at Lincoln High School. I had teachers who cared, people who pushed me,” said Wheeler, who graduated in 1981.

Alumni by the bus-load, many of them wore old school gear, some of it more than 60 years old.

Susan Grayson, who graduated in 1957, had a sweater from her time there.

“We wore it when we were rooting for the Lincoln teams,” she said.

Grayson now has two grandchildren at Lincoln High School.

Others found old classmates, even teachers.

“I just saw my old chemistry teacher, our old counselor, so good to see him. he was our stats guy for basketball,” said Christy MacColl.

“I had some really good years at Lincoln, I loved my high school years, all the support I had at Lincoln, all the fun we had at Lincoln,” said another alum, Tiffani Penson.

The Lincoln High School rebuild was top-of-mind Saturday night, with construction expected to start in 2020.

“As much as I love Lincoln High School, let's be honest, the existing building is a dog,” said Wheeler. “It's needed to be replaced for a long, long time.”

“I feel like our kids should not sit on the floors in the hallways to eat lunch,” said Penson. “We need space, we need lights, we're downtown, I'm all for it. I believe in kids, and giving them a place to learn, that's good for them.”

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