Sept. 1, 2010
students join together at open house
By Jana Hollingsworth
Duluth Denfeld student Taia McColley looked forward
to becoming a senior so she could finally purchase a Denfeld-logoed
parking permit. She got one this year, but it bears the Central
“It ruined my scrapbook,” she said.
“I thought it would have both names.”
McColley was one of several Denfeld students who
toured her new school, Central, for the first time Tuesday night
during an open house. Students and parents had the chance to get
to know the school before beginning the school year. The schools
are merging for one year at Central as part of the Duluth school
district’s Red Plan. In 2011-12, work on Denfeld will be complete
and both Denfeld and Central students will shift back to Denfeld
for good, and Central will close.
While McColley shared some disappointments, she
said the sadness and anger of living out her senior year away from
the school she loved had mostly gone away.
“We just have to enjoy it,” she said.
“My teachers are here. It’s Trojans for a year. But
I hope we can do all of our stuff we used to do: Maroon and Gold
Day, bonfires. It’s going to be kind of different.”
Parent volunteer Patty Langlee helped put together
the open house. She said with 1,500 students all in the same school,
it was important for Denfeld students to see the classrooms and
“Every school in Duluth has an open house,”
she said, noting Denfeld’s generally was held several weeks
after school started. “We wanted to do this before to ease
the transition and the intimidation factor. It’s like you’re
a freshman again; you don’t have a clue where anything is.”
Junior Haylee Johnson toured the school with her
mom, Samantha DeRosier, and found each of her classes.
“I would rather stay at Denfeld but it’s
something that I have to do,” she said, adding that she expects
students from both schools to support each other and wear both school
Johnson plays basketball and fastpitch softball,
and DeRosier is concerned she’ll lose her varsity status.
“She’s been on varsity the last two
years, and to combine like this, unless you’re really, really
good, she could be bumped down and play on JV this year to let more
seniors be on varsity,” she said. “I don’t think
it’s very fair. You would hate for (any student) to lose a
spot on the team and be pulled in a bad direction.”
But, she said, she appreciated that Johnson would
be in a more diverse environment that would allow her to explore
new things, and she would return to Denfeld to graduate.
Denfeld senior Kristi Gunderson was concerned
about losing her spot in the top 10 percent of the class because
of the combination of students. She’s also worried about making
it to her West Duluth after-school job in time. She noted the departure
situation, with one exit, was going to be a hassle at Central.
And at Denfeld, she said, “the teachers
and students really bond together. We’re like one because
we’re really close. So it’s kind of sad that we’re
missing out on that.”
Roger Peterson is father to a Denfeld junior coming
to Central. He said timely transportation was a worry, but he had
confidence in the school system to make the year at Central work.
“It’s an opportunity to make new friends,”
he said. “There was initial apprehension, but the kids will
be just fine.”
And McColley and her friends have discussed a
distinction, special to the Denfeld senior class of 2011: “We
were the Denfeld kids who had to go to Central for a year,”
she said. “That’s kind of cool.”