Feb. 23, 2010
Duluth School Board picks high school
By Jana Hollingsworth
Denfeld and East high schools will keep their
names and mascots when the three Duluth high schools become two
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
“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
“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.