Our view: You go to 'Dentral?' How about 'Cenfeld?'
Duluth's Leo Oliver heard of the decision and immediately was alarmed. The football team and other sports teams from Central High School are to play this year under the name Central Trojans. But, as Oliver and just about everyone else around here...
Duluth's Leo Oliver heard of the decision and immediately was alarmed. The football team and other sports teams from Central High School are to play this year under the name Central Trojans. But, as Oliver and just about everyone else around here knows, about half the student body at Central is made up of Denfeld kids because their school is under reconstruction. Next year, that student body, nearly 1,500 students strong, will move permanently from Central into Denfeld, and Central will be closed.
So Oliver just had to ask -- and is far from the only one curious.
"What happened to the Denfeld Hunters? Will they be back next year?" Oliver asked in a letter he immediately hammered out and e-mailed to the News Tribune Opinion page. "The School Board continues to do as it wants."
Actually, this time, School Board members can't be knocked -- or praised; this decision wasn't theirs.
"For simplicity's sake, this year the Minnesota State High School League recognizes the combined team as Central Trojans. And when students move to Denfeld next year, the combined team name will be Denfeld Hunters," school district spokeswoman Katie Kaufman explained. "Last spring, (district administrators) asked coaches to work on building a team atmosphere with players from both schools. Locally, coaches and players have some discretion as to how they present themselves. During football practice, for example, players wore Central/Denfeld shirts. During games, they're wearing a mix of Central and Denfeld colors, and there are fans in the stands wearing both schools' colors."
In addition, the principal at Central this year wore Central and Denfeld clothing for the first day of classes. The school newsletter is called "Chalk Talk Around the Clock," a combination of Central's "Chalk Talk" and Denfeld's "Talk Around the Clock." The newsletter features both the Trojans' logo and an image of the Denfeld clock tower.
Oliver and other Denfeld boosters can relax: Even though all Central and Denfeld students are attending Central this year, "There will be activities and events ... related to Denfeld, including the opportunity for Denfeld students to graduate in that school's auditorium and receive a Denfeld diploma," Kaufman said. Also, as the News Tribune's Jana Hollingsworth reported yesterday, there will be both Denfeld and Central sets of king and queen for fall homecoming. That decision recognizes that students from each school are still getting to know each other.
Central boosters can relax, too: After the school on the hill is closed, it won't be forgotten. Murals are being planned in the student centers at both Denfeld and the new East High School "depicting the bloodlines of both schools," Kaufman said. "In other words, Denfeld could include images of Central, Old Central, the old Denfeld and Morgan Park. East could include Central, Old Central and the old East High School, etc. There have been discussions about perhaps including Central trophies and awards in the display cases at both schools. And Old Central itself is a reminder of Central's history in the city of Duluth."
All good ideas as both Central and Denfeld have histories worth preserving.
Central can trace its history to 1892 and what's now called Historic Old Central High School at Second Street and Lake Avenue. The original school's clock tower remains one of Duluth's best-known landmarks. The new Central was built in 1971.
Denfeld was named for Robert E. Denfeld, a school superintendent in Duluth for 31 years and a national pioneer in educational innovation. The "Hunters" name is in tribute to longtime Coach Walt Hunting, who won city, district, region and state championships in golf, basketball and baseball. He coached football for 28 years, winning 70 percent of his games and collecting 14 city titles and five state championships.
"I hope we see Denfeld Hunters in the sports again," Oliver wrote. "It is not just a name referring to a location in the city or an object or mascot."
By all accounts -- and judging from the column on today's page -- students are adjusting well to the many changes that go along with being merged. They don't seem to be nearly as concerned as some adults about what their football team is called or what colors anyone is wearing.
Some students are even jokingly calling their school "Seinfeld High," a play on the combining of the Central and Denfeld names to produce "Cenfeld." Or "Seinfeld."
How about "Dentral?"