Denfeld News

May 31, 2009
Duluth News Tribune

Suggestions for school names keep the conversation going

Last Sunday, the Duluth News Tribune suggested that the names of Duluth’s two remaining high schools — after completion of the red plan — be Denfeld High School and Ordean High School. The names would preserve and celebrate history while also promoting unity.

For too long, school names, outdated attitudes and other subtle and not-so-subtle elements have contributed to an unhealthy and unproductive east-west divide in Duluth.

The new high schools, and what they’re called, could be seized as an opportunity to discourage such a divide — to the benefit of the entire city moving forward.

But what do you think? We asked that, too, a week ago today, and dozens of students, Duluthians and Duluth high school graduates now scattered across the country responded. The feedback included strong support for saving the Denfeld name in western Duluth. Also, the Ordean High School name outpaced Duluth East High School by a nearly three-to-one margin. And only one respondent suggested one of the schools be named Duluth Central.

Readers’ ideas for new high school names

For simplicity, East Duluth and West Duluth. Otherwise, East Ordean Denfeld High School for the school in eastern Duluth and West Ordean Denfeld High School for the school at what now is Denfeld. These ideas preserve the legacies of the two great Duluth pioneers with the Ordean name coming first because he was first in history. These names sound united and “big city.” Also, the red and white colors from Old Central could be preserved.
—Bob Martin, Duluth

The schools should be called North High School and South High School. Why? One school is north of Lake Avenue and the other is south of Lake Avenue. Students and parents would be equal.
Marti Hopkins, Duluth

I’m surprised to see controversy over what to name the new and currently dubbed “Eastern High School,” though I suppose I shouldn’t be. Controversy seems to constantly abound from everything inane. Being a graduate of East, I can’t really care less what they call the new school, though I suppose it should be said the new high school will be located on the very east side of the East Duluth neighborhood. You know, just west of Lakeside.

Just south of the proposed new “Eastern High School,” on the other side of what once was Ordean Field, stood, from 1889 to 1894, a little schoolhouse called East Duluth School. Is history repeating itself?

Whatever the eastern school is called, I hope they keep the same red and gray colors. I’ve always found them to be soothing.

Has anyone thought of naming it “East of the Old Central High School High School”? It’d be a little long to fit into a chant, but it’d include everyone. Just a thought.
Everett Reynolds, Duluth

The variables involved in transitioning to the new high school at Ordean have been debated around and around. The one I am most familiar with, being an East High School student, is school identity. East and Central have tremendous amounts of school pride, and each has a strong sense of identity. Many students are involved in their school, grew up in tight communities and followed in the footsteps of family members who attended the school.

With the site switching to Ordean, the question is raised as to what to call the new building, seeing that both Central and East students would be attending there.

I feel the name should not have “East” in it even though the school is in the east end of town. The students still identify themselves as from the east or central part of town, and labeling it geographically could spark feuds.

A name like Denfeld sounds less dividing.

Ordean High School takes care of the problem, too, but students may want something to set them apart from the middle school.

Whatever the decision, I know students will be quick to take advantage of the fresh start and will almost immediately develop a sense of school pride.
Will Dack, Duluth
Dack is a senior at Duluth East.

Call them Denfeld and Ordean high schools — and East Junior High, like it was originally. We need to uphold the generosity of the civic-minded leaders who made it possible to have Denfeld and Ordean schools at all. Changing the names would be an affront to their history.
Jennifer K. Johnson, Duluth

As a 1953 graduate of Denfeld, I feel strongly the Denfeld school name, as well as its maroon-and-gold colors, be continued without change.
Gerald Fitzpatrick, Albany Calif.

The new name at both Denfeld and Ordean should be Duluth High School, Denfeld Campus and Ordean Campus.

Most Minnesota high schools incorporate their city’s name into their own, including Virginia High School and Cloquet High School. I believe it is more common to have another name in the case of consolidated schools, like Mesabi East for the communities of Aurora, Hoyt Lakes and Biwabik.

So, just like many campuses of the same school, whether university or high school (University of Minnesota has campuses in the Twin Cities, Duluth, Morris and Crookston; Lakeville High School has north and south campuses), naming the school with the city name takes the guesswork out of where school are located. It seems more unified than renaming schools as Twin Ports High School or North Shore High School, and it causes far less confusion.

Retaining the Denfeld and Ordean designators helps specify a campus location and continues to pay tribute to those whose memory should be honored.

School colors? Why not take one color from each school? This should be relatively easy since both East and Central have red. Select red and gold (representing Denfeld). All schools should have the same uniforms and letter jackets if we are truly one. Booster clubs and athletic organizations can work to help raise the money to offset costs related to changes.

Duluth does not need another fight in the face of change. Let common sense prevail.
Sheila K. Shusterich, Duluth

As an alumnus of Denfeld, class of 1957, I am concerned over any controversy related to the name of the school. Just because the boundaries of the school district are about to change, the school remains unchanged. It doesn’t matter where the students attending live.

Robert E. Denfeld devoted his life to education and to the well-being of students. The population of that era chose to honor him by naming the school after him, and that should not be changed.

The regal colors of maroon and gold also should remain.
Adrienne Bergquist Thureen, Duluth

One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. East side, west side, Bayside, Lakeside. All of this chatter of names has gotten many people in a tizzy lately, and with so many other issues on the table, this is one that should be resolved with as little struggle and dispute as possible.

In my opinion, let’s keep it simple and call our city’s future educational facilities Lakeside High and Bayside High. Easy enough, right? One school is on the side of the lake, while the other is near the bay; it works magnificently.

Many people — many Denfeld alumni or students — express a desire to keep Denfeld as Denfeld. Not change the name, not eradicate the identity of their school, but I disagree. People change their names all the time; companies and products do it, too. Why not a building?

After all, what’s in a name? “That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet,” Shakespeare wrote.

The people and classrooms and information being learned will change. The teachers and teaching techniques will change. Why not change the name as well?

As for East High, I think the “High School Musical” movies one through 6 million ruined that name for me. Besides, it’s going to be a completely different facility. If we kept the name East High it would be as silly as moving from Kansas to Nebraska and changing the name of Nebraska to Kansas.

We’re just not in Kansas anymore.
Emilie Marshall, Duluth
Marshall is a senior at Duluth East.

I graduated from Denfeld in 1953 and my father in 1930 (I think). The name should remain Denfeld High School and the colors maroon and gold.
Lanne Nordin Mitchell, Monrovia, Calif.

I’ve lived in Duluth less than a year after growing up in the small town of Renville, Minn. We had several cities combined to form our school there. When I was just getting into middle school, our school structure got all changed up and we added two cities. So I know how this issue can affect students and parents. How are kids going to react? Can old rivals become new friends? In the end, everything turned out great. Consolidation was a blessing for everyone.

But will it be in Duluth? And what will Duluth’s high schools be called? It’s hard to neglect the history of Denfeld, Central and East. Everyone wants to keep their own histories and legacies. However, they could embrace a new history.

The city of Duluth can gain much. With a new rivalry and friendship between two schools, sporting events would become excuses to have friendly battles. Students and parents would have fun, like Vikings and Packers fans.

Friends become foes just for a day.

As for names: Duluth East and Duluth West or, maybe, Duluth North and Duluth South.

Let students decide on mascot names; it can be fun.

Looking from the outside in, I feel for the schools, students, parents and faculties involved in having to make decisions about school names.

Duluth Central, of course, is losing the most, and I think it would be important somehow to maintain connections with its traditions and identity. It’s also important to maintain the traditions and identity of Duluth East. It’s obvious a name change may be needed — and at Denfeld, also.

Look to Bloomington, Minn. They have two schools, but the name of the city is at the forefront.

The Denfeld name would not be as difficult to change as the school could still maintain its colors, mascot and nickname, thus preserving identity and traditions.

This would be more difficult with Central and East. While Central is being forced into this situation, it would be fair if the two schools could come up with a new name that reflects the future.

One positive is that the schools’ colors are very similar. Nicknames and mascots, on the other hand, are quite dissimilar and would probably need to be changed, a change that would be felt by both.

The two schools, however, have been given a chance few receive. They can come together as one to work through differences and create a new institution. They have the opportunity to begin great new traditions and a new identity. In the future, they’ll be able to look back and reflect on what they created.

They just need to be careful to maintain, in some small way, past traditions and the identities of both in the history of the new schools Web site or, perhaps, at the entrance of that school. I think the two student bodies could have a field day with the creation of this and I wish them good luck.
Charlie Bastien, Cloquet

I never went to school in Duluth, but I did where schools were moved or eliminated.

Changing the names of East High School and Denfeld High School would not be appropriate. The schools will always be East and Denfeld, especially to those who went there.

Ordean Middle School should become Ordean High School. Why eliminate that good person’s name when the building remains?

Central High School will no longer exist. Face reality. It’s bad enough to lose one school; why destroy two more?

In addition, taxpayers do not need the additional expense of changing names for unrealistic reasons.
—Ted Chura, Duluth

Leave current names as they are: Duluth Denfeld and Duluth East. There’s no need to change either. The entire neighborhood around Denfeld is the Denfeld neighborhood. Since Denfeld will remain in the same building, its name can remain. And East High will still be East, just in a different building. So that name can be left unchanged, too.
—Steve and Sandy Hansen, Duluth
The Hansens are East and Denfeld graduates.

When Duluth Central closes in 2011, a lot of things are going to change for a lot of kids. The only way to unify the students from all three high schools is to change the names of the two new high schools, along with their colors, school songs, etc. Changing names does not mean giving up all traditions. It would signify a new beginning for all students and would be a great way to incorporate the old with the new and make everyone feel a part of their new schools.
Lisa Maciver, Duluth

The western high school should remain Denfeld High School, honoring the heritage of a nationally known educational pioneer, Eduard Denfeld, and the school should retain its maroon and gold colors. Aside from pleasing alumni and the Denfeld community, this is a no-brainer cost savings to the school district.

The eastern high school should be called Ordean High School, honoring Albert Ordean and his contributions to the community.

The names East and Central are non-descript directions or locations; they have no relationship to the community or to an individual.
—Linda Seger Paulick, Duluth
The writer is a 1963 graduate of Denfeld.

Although changing school names won’t affect me neces¬sarily, I think the names should be Denfeld High School and Ordean High School. That would keep tradition going. Both names have ground behind them.

I am not saying Central does not have tradition because it does. But why should names be changed if they have been that way for many years? Yes, it may seem a little out of place for the students who have to switch schools, but that shouldn’t affect the names of the schools. If schools keep their names, divisions between east and west could potentially stop.
—Kelly Green, Duluth
Green is a junior at Denfeld.

The transition of schools in the city of Duluth is controversial, frustrating and overwhelming. We have seen letters, rallies, yard signs and more. As a 16-year-old Duluth East High School student, I open my eyes. I see prosperity, hope and a better future for students. I want to see students after me grow and learn in the best possible environment. In order to accomplish this, we need to open our eyes to change, to possibilities, and to a passageway to a better future.

This is why I think Duluth’s two high schools should be named Cooke High and Aerial High.

In the late 1860s, financier Jay Cooke convinced the Lake Superior and Mississippi Railroad to create an extension between Duluth and St. Paul. This opened a gateway to iron ore mining and caused the population of Duluth to skyrocket. Cooke’s dream was to make Duluth a “new Chicago.” At one point, Cooke was forced into bankruptcy and struggled with finances. But he wanted to change Duluth and create a better environment. And he knew change came at a price.

Right now in Duluth, it is important to look forward, to realize students deserve better and to take chances. I think a high school should be named after Cooke for his determination to initiate prosperity.

A major sight in Duluth is the Aerial Lift Bridge. Despite controversy, a canal to allow ships into the harbor was dug, creating a gateway. The bridge that followed took a long time to build and went through multiple architectural plans. Where would Duluth be without our dear Aerial Lift Bridge? I think a high school should be named for the bridge and the difficulties overcome in order for it to be a reality and a gateway for hope, just like our schools today.
—Kristin Trapp, Duluth
Trapp is a junior at Duluth East.

Duluth Denfeld gave me a jump-start in life for which I will be forever grateful. As Duluth passes through turbulent times, it could please honor the memories of countless Denfeld teachers, now long gone, by retaining the name, colors and all that is implied by what Tevya declares in “Fiddler on the Roof”: tradition.
—Tyrone Bujold, Minneapolis

The name of the school in West Duluth celebrating the centennial of its first graduating class this summer is Denfeld High School. Its colors are maroon and gold. Period. No further discussion is necessary.
—Barbara Humphrey, Richfield, Minn.
Humphrey is a 1953 graduate of Denfeld and co-chair of her class’ alumni association.

The Denfeld and Ordean names stand for people who were important to the education of Duluth students and should continue to be used.
—Linda Veillet, Duluth
Veillet teaches at Ordean Middle School.

In just a couple short years, three schools will converge to create two “super schools.” While this sounds fine and dandy, the consolidation of diverse student bodies is sure to bring rivalries.

I do think there needs to be a certain familiarity in the city, so the Denfeld Hunters should retain their colors and name.

However, I am proposing that the new “East” be represented and known by something other than a general location, along with a completely new color scheme. There needs to be some spark to its name, a little oomph to the banner for dramatic effect, if you will.

Black is bold, and with bright blue trim, other schools would shake in their boots as we take the field. While I, as a proud East Greyhound, hate to see the established name of my soon-to-be alma mater go away, I think it is a new step in the unity of the students.

“Northtown High” seems a plausible name that would suit our area well. But now for the tricky part: the mascot. While the scenery around the city includes an overwhelming population of deer, gulls, and menacing mosquitoes, I would turn to the rarer and more welcoming animal: eagles. It may sound corny, but it would rival the Hunters, Hawks, and Hilltoppers. Eagles possess hidden strength, and with the new school, that is sure to be true.
—Natalie Landwehr, Duluth
Landwehr is a junior at Duluth East.

I don’t think the names should be changed. I love our school names. They represent who we are. I’m a Denfeld Hunter.
—Tilly Aho, Duluth

I think the school names issue could be kept very simple. Call the schools the Duluth East Trojans and Duluth West Hunters. That might keep everyone satisfied.
Mick Singpiel, Cloquet

First, a fitting name for the eastern Duluth high school is Lakeshore High. We live next to this grand, beautiful gift from Mother Nature, and we should honor her for her generous bestowal. Duluth is known for being at the tip of Lake Superior, thus we should live up to our recognition. In addition, the name makes us more identifiable and associates the high school with our environment. A possible mascot would be the Lions. The reason: alliteration. Lakeshore Lions.

Second, Denfeld should simply remain Denfeld. As the oldest high school in Duluth, we should preserve our city’s educational history. Keeping the name would save money as the school wouldn’t have to be altered.

The district is going through a time of transformation. These two titles balance a need to not forget the community we have built but also represent the exciting change.
—Katie Hayden, Duluth
Hayden is a senior at Duluth East.

One could be called Universal School of Learning because it would be open to anyone, no matter what their race. And the other could be Outlet High School because any subject matter could be taught.
Jerry Gregg, Duluth

Denfeld. That name contains multitudes. For me, the son of a Lithuanian immigrant and an Iowa mother, Denfeld encompasses excellence — in teachers, classroom education, social development and opportunity. To be a member of the class of 1953 continues to fill me with pride.

What this kid from West 61st Street was empowered to do is a credit to my fellow students, incredibly fine teachers, a competent administration and the Denfeld ethos. Having built on the foundation my teachers at Denfeld built for and with me, I have been privileged to devote my life to public service, including, especially, serving as a professor at the University of Wisconsin over many years and traveling the globe, gaining insights about aging societies, and sharing my own rich history of being at the table when critical policy decisions were being made at the local, state, national and global levels.

Without the Denfeld experience, I would still be hanging storm windows and cutting lawns — important work, but not nearly as satisfying as utilizing the tools I learned to use while at Denfeld. I learned to ask tough questions, to do the research needed for informed policies, to communicate clearly and to act responsibly to effect vital changes — in my field, for the well-being of older people.

Not a day passes that I do not recall and appreciate my Denfeld years — my teachers, fellow students and the community. The name Denfeld symbolizes excellence.
—James T. Sykes, Madison

As the cuts and reforms of the red plan tear their way through the emotions of Duluth citizens, one of the last things on people’s minds are the titles that need to be given to the two new high schools. Although many may not think this to be important, I believe it is a crucial part in making all students and staff comfortable in their new educational environments.

For the western high school, I suggest it remain Duluth Denfeld High School. I request this simply because there is no point in changing a name with which the majority of the attending students are familiar. Certainly, there will be Central students transferring to Denfeld, but they will be a great minority to the “Hunters” who already call the school their home.

As for the new eastern high school, I propose it be called East-Central High School. With this name, I would also suggest that the mascot for the school be an eagle, in light of all the controversy over building near an eagle’s nest on the outskirts of the Ordean site. A simple hyphen is all that would be needed to keep all students happy as the name would represent both schools and the entire east-central area of Duluth.
—Chris Van House, Duluth
Van House is a junior at Duluth East.

I think it stinks to lose the beautiful Duluth Central campus and the city’s newest high school. But the two high schools that remain could be called Denfeld and Duluth Central, with the same mascots and colors. East would still be in existence as a junior high with its colors and mascots. Another idea would be to call the new school Central-East with its colors red, white and gray. A new mascot could be picked — like a Trojan riding a greyhound.
—Linda Siemsen, Hermantown

I don’t think any real changes to high school names need to be made.
In the east end, I think East High School would be a perfectly fine and fitting name. Students coming from Central may argue that such a name doesn’t give anything to remember their school by, but their school is also named for a direction. Everyone should be able to agree that East would be a perfectly suitable name.

As for the west end of town, I think the decision here is even easier: Just leave it Denfeld. The new western high school will be at the Denfeld site. It could even be looked at as a massive renovation. It makes perfect sense to just leave Denfeld as Denfeld.

Although there inevitably will be controversies no matter what names are chosen, I think leaving the names as they are is the smartest and most reasonable decision.
—Jack Sandbulte, Duluth
Sandbulte is a sophomore at Duluth East.

We must leave names as is for both schools. Denfeld and Ordean. Everyone knows the locations of the schools. Tradition needs to be maintained. Do not change either name.
—Mr. and Mrs. James and Patti Fisher, Duluth

Denfeld (west) and Snively (east).

Robert E. Denfeld was superintendent of Duluth Public Schools, helping all of the city. Denfeld High School was originally named for him.

Samuel F. Snively was mayor of all of Duluth, dedicating his own time and often his own money to create and build the wonderful Skyline boulevard.
—Dorothy Elpe, Duluth

Denfeld High School and Ordean High School.

Keeping the names of the schools just makes good sense to me.
—Donna Stenberg Spehar, Duluth

When you try to please everybody, you usually end up pleasing nobody.
Why upset all three student bodies when only one is to be split?
Denfeld can stay “Denfeld.”

The East student body could stay “East,” and the building it’s in could be the “Ordean School Building.” Alternately, it could be Ordean High School, and the student body that was at East could continue with colors, traditions and mascot they had. The Ordean Greyhounds.

There is already a provision for remembering Central’s history and achievements in the museum at the Central Administration Building, which was the original Central High School.

There would be great cost psychologically and monetarily in changing uniforms and colors of both schools. Roots are good.

The cost of too much change would be monumental. Who would decide on changes? Students? The School Board? Are we in for more heated debates?
—Diana Hill, Duluth

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