Students at Eight Portland High Schools Dish on Where the Cool Kids Sit

For incoming freshmen, nothing is more terrifying than the possibility that they’ll violate some unwritten rule of high school life. This cheat sheet is for them.

As a rule, shitty locker rooms, worse-than-average lunch food, and weird mascots are unavoidable parts of the high school experience. But each campus does them differently.

For incoming freshmen, nothing is more terrifying than the possibility that they’ll violate some unwritten rule of high school life. This cheat sheet is for them. (Let’s be honest: It’s also for all the adults wondering what’s changed since they last set foot in the halls. Answer: Everything, you ancient millennial.)

WW conducted an extremely unscientific survey of students at Portland Public Schools high schools by interviewing a student from each school and asking them to rate different aspects of their campus on a scale of 1 to 10. The highest and lowest scores for each category are featured below, along with some reasoning for the rating.

A few schools feature on the list more than others: Ida B. Wells High in Hillsdale was given the worst ratings for cafeteria food, school spirit, mascot and locker room. At the other end of the spectrum, Leodis McDaniel High on Northeast 82nd Avenue was reported as having the best mascot, colors and school spirit. (Do these school names seem unfamiliar? PPS schools saw several name changes over the past five years, you ancient millennial.)

That could be a result of our complete disregard for established survey methods. Or maybe it’s a sign that we’ve identified some meaningful trends never before reported. Read on for some insight into what being a high school student looks like in the 21st century.

Ekansh Gupta contributed reporting to this story.

Best Cafeteria Food

Roosevelt High School

8 stars out of 10

“We have a nacho bar, which actually has fresh food. The regular cafeteria food is disgusting, as per usual.” —Keenan Gray, Roosevelt senior

Worst Cafeteria Food

Three-way tie: Lincoln, Wells and Franklin high schools


“Nothing special, bang average for a school, I would say.” —Henry Reuland, Lincoln senior

If you eat lunch off campus, where’s the best spot?

Cleveland: Spielman Bagels & Coffee

McDaniel: Rose City Food Park

Wells: Basics Market

Franklin: Namu

Grant: New Seasons

Jefferson: Atlas Pizza

Roosevelt: Signal Station Pizza

Lincoln: Nara Thai

Best Mascot

McDaniel High School


Mountain Lions

“One of the considerations was the Stubby Squids, and I would’ve transferred if that’s what we had become. I love mountain lions, so I’m really glad we became that.” —Maleigha Canaday-Elliott, McDaniel junior

Worst Mascot

Two-way tie: Wells and Roosevelt high schools


Wells has a Guardian Owl, Roosevelt has a Rider.

“Teddy Roosevelt liked to ride horses, so that’s what the mascot is, just someone who rides a horse. It’s dumb.” —Gray

Where do you go to get coffee?

Cleveland: K&F Coffee

McDaniel: Dutch Bros

Wells: Gigi’s Cafe

Franklin: 50th and Division food carts

Grant: Case Study Coffee

Jefferson: 7-Eleven

Roosevelt: Daydreamer Coffee

Lincoln: Coava Coffee

Best School Spirit

Two-way tie: Jefferson and McDaniel high schools


“People go to games to hang out. When it comes to cheering and supporting everyone, it’s really good. Multicultural Week and Spirit Week are really good.” —Canaday-Elliott

Worst School Spirit

Wells High School


“It’s pretty bad. I have friends from other schools and it seems like they’re a lot more involved in anything than we are.” —Roey Kramer, Wells senior

Best Locker Room

Lincoln High School


“The new locker room is unbelievable. I think it’s just ‘cause of how bad our old locker room was.” —Reuland

Worst Locker Room

Wells High School


“It’s pretty shit, pretty small, gross.” —Kramer

Best School Colors

McDaniel High School


Red and light blue

“I like the darker colors. It’s like three basic colors, not too complicated.” —Canaday-Elliott

Worst School Colors

Two-way tie: Franklin and Cleveland high schools


Franklin’s are gray and maroon, Cleveland’s are Kelly green and yellow.

“I personally don’t like Franklin’s. Some people do, but it’s better than Cleveland because Cleveland’s colors suck and they’re ugly.” —Wrigley Cook, Franklin junior

Best School Tradition

Lincoln: Color Wars

“People go all out, people spend three, four hours the day before after school, in the halls, putting paper all over the lights. You step into a hallway and it’s like a prism of one color.” —Reuland

Cleveland: Homecoming

McDaniel: Multicultural Week

Wells: Singing at football games

Franklin: Arts Alive

Grant: Toga Day

Jefferson: Spirit Week

Roosevelt: Hoodies Up Day

“In honor of Trayvon Martin, I think on his birthday, everyone wears a hoodie with their hoods up, because that’s technically against school policy and, like, part of why he was shot. It’s a really cool tradition.” —Gray

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