Denfeld News

Feb. 23, 2010
Duluth News Tribune

Duluth School Board picks high school names
By Jana Hollingsworth

Denfeld and East high schools will keep their names and mascots when the three Duluth high schools become two in 2011-12.

A school names decision wasn’t on the School Board agenda tonight. But after a student transition team made impassioned pleas for the board to move forward with a decision, member Ann Wasson made the motion to accept the student plan’s first choice: for Denfeld and East names, colors and mascots to remain the same, while Central’s name and mascot are retired.

“I’ve talked to students and parents and community members,” Wasson said. “I knew where I was going with this.”

She said the histories of schools were important to the district, and Central High School will be preserved in some way.

“Students want answers: where they are going to be going to school, what’s parking going to be like,” said Sam Seering, a member of the transition team, noting the decisions are about students’ lives. “These are the kinds of things they worry about. It’s not just about a mascot.”

Students are resilient and will adjust, but need time to do that, said transition team member Trisha Ryan, a senior at East.

“It’s impossible to make it fair in everyone’s eyes,” she said, “but students are afraid of the unknown.”

The plan included three options for names of the schools for the 2011-12 school year: Keep the original names and mascots for East and Denfeld; blend the Denfeld name with the Central mascot while East keeps its name and mascot; or use new names such as Enger Tower or Split Rock High School for the western site and Northern Lights or Aerial High School for the eastern site.

The plan also addresses things like graduation, parking, sports, school dances, clubs and integration. Those recommendations will go to district administration for decisions.

Board Member Art Johnston said he wasn’t comfortable accepting the names without community feedback, despite wanting the original names to be preserved. Ultimately he voted to accept it, along with five other board members. Gary Glass abstained.

Member Judy Seliga-Punyko said the students’ presentation to the board earlier in the month was very thorough.

“It’s a great plan,” she said, acknowledging some small deviations might be made. “But this is a great track to run on for them. The kids want us to make a decision; let’s do it.”

Central student Maia Dalager said Central needs to be represented somewhere.

While she didn’t want all three schools to lose their identities, “you can’t just forget about a third of the city,” she said.

The board also approved the final bid for the eastern high school, which is being developed on the former Ordean Middle School site, closing out the bidding process for that building.

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