Former rivals Central and Denfeld come togetherTime has a funny way of changing things. The parents and grandparents of the current crop of Central and Denfeld students will remember the days when the schools had an ongoing rivalry.
By: Erik Pheifer, Budgeteer News
Time has a funny way of changing things. The parents and grandparents of the current crop of Central and Denfeld students will remember the days when the schools had an ongoing rivalry.
The rivalry included pranks such as Denfeld releasing a greased pig into Central’s hallways and an egg-throwing war that took place during a football game between the schools in 1979.
But the most remembered and talked about prank for students is when Denfeld students put a car on top of Central High School with their nickname, Hunters, written on the side of it.
However, the pinnacle of those pranks has long passed and is now officially dead as the Central and Denfeld student bodies have combined as result of the transition from three high schools to two.
The transition has students attending Central this year while renovations are completed at Denfeld. Next year the entire school will be moved to Denfeld, leaving it and East as Duluth’s two public high schools.
Although it may be a sore sight for those who can remember the glory days of the rivalry, the students and administration are settling in as well as — if not better than — could be expected, according to principal Lisa Mitchell-Krocak.
Mitchell-Krocak said she hasn’t noticed any problems with the two different groups of kids coming together; instead, she has seen it as a positive experience. She said most kids she has talked to about the transition have been excited about making friends with other students they wouldn’t have normally met.
She reported that, of the nearly 400 former Central students who found themselves on the East side of the new boundary, around 300 chose the option of staying at Central. She also said current students would have the option of graduating with diplomas from the school of their choice.
“A benefit of the transition is that the school is able to offer more advanced-placement courses and more courses overall,” she added.
To make the transition easier for students, the school has been giving students a great deal of say in how to deal with events and activities — such as homecoming.
The students decided they wanted two different coronations, since neither felt they would know the other student body well enough to vote for them. However, they plan on having only one coronation for their winter events.
Further, organizations such as student council have equal representation between the two schools, to make discussions and decisions fair in order to promote solidarity in the future.
Adair Ballavance had been the yearbook adviser at Denfeld for the last 13 years. She wanted to come up with a way that would preserve the tradition of each school’s yearbook while demonstrating the union of the different schools.
She decided on the novel idea of having the front and back covers of the current yearbook represent the different schools’ yearbooks. One cover will represent the 117th volume of the Central Zenith while the other will signify the 95th edition of the Denfeld Oracle.
Additionally, as a way of showing unity, the yearbook will start with Central and Denfeld activities from the spring on opposite sides of the yearbook behind their corresponding cover with activities from the fall and winter being in the middle.
Other groups are also coming up with shirt design ideas to promote cohesiveness. The cheerleaders designed a shirt with both schools’ logos that reads “Coming Together,” while the football team has a design on its shirts that includes both schools’ names. The homecoming shirt has a Trojan mascot (to represent Central) appearing in Denfeld’s colors.
Central and Denfeld are even trying to make the transition easy on the parents. For example, both schools’ logos are being used on the letterhead of documents, while the newsletter is a combination of the title from past issues of each school’s newsletter: The current newsletter is named “Chalktalk Around the Clock,” which comes from Central’s “Chalktalk” and Denfeld’s “Talk Around the Clock.”
As for the sports teams, activities director Tom Pearson said he has given the coaches flexibility in dealing with the transition and that the reaction from everyone has been mostly positive.
The girls’ soccer team had about 80 girls try out, which prompted coach Ron Weber to create another team to limit the number of cuts. The athletic teams are even coming up with ideas to show harmony.
Some girls’ soccer players on the team came up with the idea to have shirts that said “DC United” while the volleyball team is using Denfeld’s colors for its libero position.
Football coach Chris Vold jokingly said his players were getting along “too well” and that the boys are responding like they have known each other for years.
“You wouldn’t know that they (the football players) had met for the first time in June,” he said.
Mitchell-Krocak said she couldn’t say how long transitional ideas such as using both schools’ logos on letterhead and a yearbook that represented both schools would last. Indeed, only time will tell which transitional ideas will become part of a new history for the Central-Denfeld high school.
This is Erik Pheifer’s first article for the Budgeteer. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.