Letter: What was school board thinking?

As members of the Daughters of the Mohave County Pioneers, we are writing this letter to express our great disappointment and concern about the decision that the Governing Board of the Kingman Unified School District made about renaming the "new" high school.

To begin with, the school at the Grandview location is not the "new" school. The high school at the Bank Street location is technically the "new" school. The downtown campus was still a part of Kingman High School up until three years ago, when it was decided to make that school a middle school. However, much of the history of Mohave County Union High School/Kingman High School still remained at that site.

Now this school is going to become a high school again, which it should have always been anyway. The Daughters are affiliated with the Mohave Museum of History and Arts and strive to preserve and maintain the history of this fine county and the great city of Kingman.

The Daughters represent many, many generations of students who have attended the Kingman schools and would like to see something of the Kingman High School left at the Grandview location.

Some of our concerns deal with the manner in which this decision was reached by the KUSD Governing Board. Back in August at a regular meeting of the school board, a motion was made by Mr. Carlin for the superintendent to put a committee together to recommend to the school board a name, mascot and colors for the "new" high school.

The motion was seconded and passed. At this same meeting, Mr. Goodale stated that the "new" high school not be named after a person or people. Funny thing - his peers agreed and we now have Richard Lee Williams High School, which by the way, there is a Williams High School less than two hours from us and the people of Williams have taken offense to the fact that there is another school with practically the same name in such close proximity.

Their Williams High School was built back in the early 1920s, about the same time as the original building of Mohave County Union High School, which was built in 1917 and was the first county high school in the state.

In September when some of the alumni in Kingman heard what was happening, petitions began to appear, letters were written to the editor of the paper and much correspondence took place between classmates via e-mails protesting changing the name of the original location of Kingman High School at the Grandview location.

Several of these alumni attended the regular school board meeting in October, and eight of them addressed the board during the Call to the Audience, stating their views and why they felt the Kingman High School name should remain at the downtown location.

It was stated then that data would be collected during October and the first part of November for the committee (to be named) to start working on recommendations for the school name at the end of November. I guess that committee isn't needed anymore, is it?

On Nov. 4, a group of alumni and interested citizens met with four of the school board members to discuss the issue of the naming of the school, cost of repainting and moving things back downtown that would be Bulldog related, etc. It was an informal session and the group asked questions of the board and vice-versa.

The board was told by the group that they felt they could raise money to help defray some of the cost if the decision was made to keep the name, colors and mascot at the Grandview site.

Mr. Carlin asked the alumni to work for a good solution and told the alumni to work on raising funds while the board deliberated its decision. He said the item would be put on the board agenda for discussion and to decide if they would postpone the decision or not. The board and administration were asked to look through the many letters, e-mails and petitions that weren't only signed by alumni, but by many community members.

On Nov. 12, a few members of the Daughters and several alumni and interested citizens attended the regular school board meeting. Discussion of names, mascots and colors of high schools at Bank Street and Grandview locations was on the agenda as a discussion/action item. There was more discussion during the Call to the Audience about naming the Grandview location but no discussion about deciding on a name.

When the agenda item came up, a motion was made by Mr. Carlin to name the downtown school Richard Lee Williams High School, make the colors red and black, the mascot the Volunteers, rename the football field Volunteer Stadium, leave the name Dick Grounds Field, and leave the Doug Brown Gym name. All this was done in one motion, with Mr. Carlin, Dr. Lucero and Ms. Libertini voting in favor and Mr. Goodale and Mrs. McMullen voting against.

There was no discussion whatsoever on this. After all, we already have a park named for the firemen and a memorial in front of the fire department depicting the tragedy, which is what the explosion was, a tragedy. Why should a school have this kind of a reminder?

And what would a Volunteer mascot be? We have no disrespect for Mr. Williams or his family. He was a good friend, a teacher and principal to many of us, but we don't feel it is fair to the students or school to constantly have this as a reminder.

We feel like the whole community has been betrayed and a great injustice has been done not only to our alumni and community but also to the students of Kingman High School. The juniors and seniors that are there now are the only ones who will be truly affected by a name change and they will still be Bulldogs and Kingman High graduates. The freshmen and sophomores will most likely be split up when the "new" school is opened and will have a new school name, colors and mascot.

The true injustice is that these students and the middle school students coming into these high schools have had no choice in choosing these names and colors. It would be the perfect opportunity for them to participate and build their school spirit for their new high school. They have been completely ignored, along with the hundreds of signatures, letters and e-mails from alumni and community members.

The Kingman Daily Miner ran a poll about keeping the name at the downtown location. That poll was three to one in favor of naming the Grandview location Kingman High School again. There were also more than 100 names submitted to the district for the naming of the new school. Those were also completely ignored.

So what is this school board thinking? Is it right that these three people can take away the history, tradition, roots and spirit of our downtown area? It is the whole downtown area that will suffer. They are trying to rebuild this area and keep the history in place and now they are losing a crucial part of that history.

So, citizens of Kingman, what do we do now? The Daughters are asking for your support!

Respectfully yours,

Daughters of the Mohave County