Fargo School Board changes Woodrow Wilson High School to Dakota High School
Board members made the decision at Tuesday's School Board Meeting
FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — What has stood in Fargo as Woodrow Wilson High School for years is now Dakota High School.
“We know we’re giving the school a new name because we have to, but beyond that, why? What are we really hoping is going to happen as a result of a new name?” asks Fargo School Board President Rebecca Knutson.
The name Dakota garnered the most board member votes out of five options at Tuesday’s School Board meeting.
Superintendent Dr. Rupak Gandhi says, and board members agreed, the name change is contingent upon talks with the Native American community.
Knutson says Indigenous leaders have already voiced their support. She explains, “There is this encouragement from the community, and when I talk about community, I mean Indigenous community, to honor that they were here 800 to 900 years before us, and there might be some guidance that we can get from them in terms of how to move forward.”
Moving forward entails picking out a new mascot for the school, which has not yet been decided.
Getting rid of the name Woodrow Wilson comes months after some community members and local leaders cited Wilson’s racist past as grounds for a name change.
“When it comes to African Americans, Wilson’s policies took away their rights, their hopes, their jobs, their dignity, and often, their lives,” Jim Shaw, an advocate for the name change, had said at a Fargo City Commission meeting on July 16th.
Although the path to a new name has not always been clear, the school’s principal David Burkman says the reasoning behind it has been.
“I can say that there’s been minimal to no conversation about, ‘Why did we have to change? Or why did the board decide to make this change?'”
He says there’s an understanding among the school’s students that Wilson’s position and policies are now simply unacceptable.
The name change takes effect at the start of the 2021 school year.