Community members gather at High School 1327 opposing the school’s name change

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Melissa Auchard

A blue Honda covered in signage opposing the name change.

On Sunday, Mar. 14, dozens of community members gathered in the High School 1327 (HS 1327) main parking lot for a rally opposing the change of the school’s previous name, Sir Francis Drake High School, as well as a change to the street name, Sir Francis Drake Blvd. Brought on by the “No Name Change for Sir Francis Drake High or SFD Boulevard” Facebook group, the car rally began at 9:00 a.m. at the 1200 block of Andersen Drive in San Rafael. The participants drove from San Rafael to HS 1327 and then to Drake’s Beach where Sir Francis Drake anchored about 500 years ago. 

As cars passing the HS 1327 main lot honked in support of the Save the Name rally, demonstrators sporting green caps, jackets, and masks held Sir Francis Drake High School signs and waved Sir Francis Drake flags. Cars displayed signs stating, “No name change!” and “Don’t rewrite history.” Rally participants lined up to sign a petition calling for  the high school and the boulevard’s names to remain as “Sir Francis Drake.”. 

Diana Perdue, an alumni of Redwood High School, participated in the Save the Name rally. Perdue has lived in the Ross Valley area for 69 years and grew up going to the HS 1327 pool. Perdue feels that she and the 1327 community were not included in the decision to change the name. 

“I don’t think the community was ever intended to be involved in this process… And then the voting that the community was going to be involved with, well if you knew it was happening maybe you would be involved, but there was no publicity,” Perdue said. 

While Perdue disagrees with the name change process, Victor Nunes, a 1972 Drake graduate, believes that by changing the name of HS 1327, it’s also changing the history of Sir Francis Drake. 

“I don’t agree in changing the name or changing this history… I don’t think you should change history,” said Nunes.   

Drake alum Sandra Coffey Jensen has an emotional attachment to the name Sir Francis Drake, so she doesn’t want to see the name removed, either on the high school or the boulevard. Coffey Jesnen graduated from Drake in 1957. She was the first class to complete four years at Drake since the school was established. 

“My husband went to Drake. All my three children went to Drake. My five foster children went to Drake. My grandchildren went to Drake,” Coffey Jensen said. 

A popular argument against the name change is that it is too expensive. Many in the HS 1327 community believe the money used for changing the name could go toward something more productive.  

Jane Richardson Mack has lived in Fairfax for 40 years, although she did not go to HS 1327. 

“I am completely against wasting money, time, and energy changing names. To me that’s destructive. They could do something constructive instead… To me, I think they would do much better to come up with ways to educate people… and honor the Miwok tribe,” Richardson Mack said. 

Like Richardson Mack, HS 1327 community member Ken Mayer thinks changing the school’s name is not constructive. 

“My primary concern is a lack of a fair, transparent process. But if you want to solve issues here, the issues are not going to be solved by changing the name. Diversity awareness needs to start at and home and [be] reinforced at school,” Mayer said.

Even though the HS 1327 community is already in the semifinals of the name change voting process, some demonstrators at the Save the Name rally hoped to have an influence on the change. 

“My primary concern is a lack of a fair, transparent process. But if you want to solve issues here, the issues are not going to be solved by changing the name. Diversity awareness needs to start at and home and [be] reinforced at school,””

— Ken Mayer

“I would like them to drop the whole idea of changing Drake’s name on anything,” Richardson Mack said. 

Nunes feels similarly to Richardson Mack. He hopes his presence at the rally will convince HS 1327 admin to abort the name change plan. 

“Well what I’m hoping to get out of this is even though, unfortunately, I think it’s a done deal, what I want to see is to keep the name of Sir Francis Drake High School,” said Nunes. Even so, Nunes has participated in the voting process. 

“To me, outside of Sir Francis Drake, it should’ve been Archie Williams. He was my teacher.”

Coffey Jensen would also like to keep the name. “I’d like to keep the name of both the high school, which is probably not going to happen, but also of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard,” Coffey Jensen said. 

Like the reasons for disagreeing with the name change, protestors also varied in what they hoped to achieve by rallying. 

“Today is to bring the attention to the community because I believe a lot of people have absolutely no idea this is going on,” Perdue said.

While some Save the Name demonstrators recognize that Sir Francis Drake will no longer be the name displayed on their local high school, they have raised their voices in order to save the boulevard name.