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Sounding Off: Switch was wrong

City Editor Cindy Frazier provided an insightful analysis of unresolved questions about the controversial and divisive name change at Laguna Beach High School in 2002 (From Canyon to Cove, “Being true to their school," July 24).

The Laguna Beach High School Alumni Assn. hopes that any discussion of this issue is aimed at reconciliation and resolution, so we can focus without distractions on positive opportunities for alumni and the community to support the success of our high school.

As bad as the name change experience was, the good news is that those primarily responsible for it are gone. The school administration and the school district are supporting students and families with sound academic and social learning programs, and that is what must remain most important for all of us.

Thus, it cannot be presumed that current educators and students at Laguna Beach High School should be required to rectify the ill-advised actions of school officials in the past. Still, because the issue was never resolved in an orderly way, the Alumni Assn. does not oppose a constructive dialogue on the matter, especially if it promotes forgiveness and reconciliation.

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The moral and ethical hangover from the lamentable negative civics lesson school officials taught to Laguna Beach High School students in 2002 is not because opponents of the name change cannot “get over" it. Rather, it is because this community has character, and more often than not, our town does not ignore petty tyranny or unfairness, even if it takes some time to recognize it and provide a remedy.

That is why donors at the annual scholarship awards still politely protest the way the name was changed, and older alumni cannot comprehend how or why this was done in stealth, becoming a fait accompli without notice to alumni.

If anyone is not “over it," that would be some of those who defended the name change process, even after the League of Women Voters determined it was an undemocratic manipulation of student votes, which were actually engineered by adults with an agenda of their own. What defenders of the name change process may not know is that the school district ultimately confirmed to the League that the change was made by the administration, not the students, and that the flawed voting imposed on students was “advisory" only.

For its part, the Alumni Assn. is over it, our membership includes Artist and Breakers, and we are excited about new directions in our projects to support Laguna Beach High School. So instead of an abject apology, what we would like to see is a formal and official expression by the school district that the Artists tradition will always be honored. We believe that will bring peace of mind to older alumni who felt their heritage was stolen in a disrespectful and dishonest way.

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Accordingly, if, as reported, Supt. Robert Fraisse seeks to sponsor a constructive dialogue with the school community about the change, we will participate in a forward-looking discourse that seeks truth and reconciliation.

Whether or not the name issue is ever addressed again by students or our public school officials, showing students that we can resolve and move beyond a controversial breakdown in good order of one of our public institutions might be the best civics lesson we could provide.


HOWARD HILLS is president of the Laguna Beach High School Alumni Assn.


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