HS 1327 works toward final name change decision and anti-racist curriculum


Fiona Swan

Former Sir Francis Drake High School signage defaced by anonymous students demanding name change. – September 16, 2020

The decision to leave behind the name of Sir Francis Drake High School became the most prominent issue of concern in the Tam District community over the past few months. Some students and faculty feel that in order to become an anti-racist school High School 1327 will need to incorporate a curriculum that teaches students about Drake High School’s history and how to be actively anti-racist. In order to accomplish a permanent name change and an official anti-racist curriculum, the school board will decide unanimously on an effective course of action. 

Sophia Martin, a senior at HS 1327, is a member of both Students Organized Against Racism (SOAR), and the Drake Leadership Committee (DLC). Martin is an active contributor to the name change discussion, but strongly feels that greater action must take place in order to create an anti-racist culture at HS 1327.

“I believe that the district has been focused on the name change but not incorporating an anti-racism curriculum into the school. Educating students and staff on our country’s history as well as Sir Francis Drake is a very important part of this process,” Martin said.

The name change process is taking longer than anticipated, due to the agreement the school and district must come to in order to proceed with permanently renaming the school. There have been weekly leadership meetings with the DLC as well as public comment sessions. At public comment sessions those who both support and oppose the name change have the opportunity to voice their opinions. 

Illustration of a board meeting discussing the name change. Fiona Swan

Many of those who oppose the name change have expressed that it will cost too much money. Several people have concluded that there are more important issues the district should put money towards. However, because the money is coming from a private fund, this point of view has been deemed as less important in the process of the name change. 

Martin concludes, “I think that the aspect of diversity is going to be so important in this discussion. Considering that [HS 1327] is the whitest school in the district, the leadership and those taking initiative on the name change campaign, including people of color and further anti-racist discussions should have the final decision in the name change.”.

Principle Liz Seabury hopes to move towards an anti-racist school by emploring the teachers to diversify their curriculum and actions. “We have started fairly seriously in our new Small Learning Communities (SLC’s) with anti-racist curriculum and working to remove the colonial lens in our history curriculum in particular.” 

Ms. Seabury feels the most difficult aspect of the process for her has been,Knowing that we would have sides in disagreement and it would bring distention in the community. No matter how we went about this, we would have folks on different sides and that is difficult.” 

The school’s name has not been officially changed nor has the confirmed plan with anti-racist curriculum, but the DLC and board members are hoping to hear feedback from the student body in order to make the final decision.