ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

Sponsored By: Two Men and a Truck
cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
78°
Thunderstorms
H 95° L 76°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    78°
    Current Conditions
    Thunderstorms. H 95° L 76°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day Created with Sketch.
    86°
    Afternoon
    Thunderstorms. H 95° L 76°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day Created with Sketch.
    79°
    Evening
    Sct Thunderstorms. H 87° L 75°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Local
School Board makes $400,000 choice to rename Forrest High
Close

School Board makes $400,000 choice to rename Forrest High

School Board makes $400,000 choice to rename Forrest High

School Board makes $400,000 choice to rename Forrest High

For those who came to Duval’s school board to make their final plea ahead of a vote on changing Nathan B. Forrest High School’s name- it was a split divide on history.

Not just the history of Nathan Bedford Forrest, but of students who have graduated the school that holds his name.

Forrest is a Confederate General who is believed to be a former member, and likely leader, of the KKK. The concern surrounding his history re-surfaced in full force just over one month ago when, in response to some community concerns, the school board member for the district, Dr. Constance Hall, requested a formal review.

Over that span of time the community, graduates, students, faculty and more were polled and asked for their input on whether the name should be changed. The poll results released Monday night show an overwhelming majority of alum- 94%- were opposed to the change while 64% of current students wanted a new name.

“This issue has led to a divide in our community,” says Duval County Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

"He was a born-again Christian after the war, and spent the last years of his life working for social and economic equality for black folks," Bill Gunnarson from the Southside tells WOKV.  "I just regret what they're doing to his memory.  His story should be one of redemption, not of the Ku Klux Klan."

Kenyatta Malcom says the decision is long overdue.  "This is something I wanted years ago when I went to school, and we've been revisiting this," she says.  "This is progress for Jacksonville.  It's time for a change.  We're so divided."

Vitti cited the will of current students when giving his support for changing the name. He says the students never wanted the name of Forrest on the school when it was adopted more than 50 years ago, and they’re showing now they don’t want it either.

It’s a sentiment all seven board members drew on as well when casting their vote to change the name. The change will be in effect by July 2014.

“I believe this is an opportunity for Jacksonville- the City of Jacksonville- and our school District to move on,” Vitti says.

This decision now sends the vote back to the students to decide what they want the new name of the school to be. Vitti plans to announce the favored name at the School Board’s regularly scheduled January meeting. The survey taken to lead to Monday night’s vote indicated that Westside High School and Firestone High School may be two of the frontrunners. The name change does not, however, mean the school’s mascot- the Rebels- will be changing. Vitti says that will also be a vote by the students.

While many of the current students are in support of the change, many alumni came to speak to board members about how they felt- that changing the name would in essence wipe out their history with the school.

“I heard overwhelmingly that there was a sense their identity would be removed with a change in the name, and I don’t think that could ever be the case,” Vitti says.

While board members and Vitti alike ensured that the value of diplomas will be unchanged, alums still consider the change disrespectful.

"If they did their research, and are true education, and if they had one, they would realize that Nathan Bedford Forrest wasn't that bad of a person," says Darrin Touchton from Fleming Island, a 1978 graduate.

All the changes associated with the name will cost an estimated $400,000.

Touchton says that money is best used elsewhere.  "Remodeling the school.  Clean the place up.  Band uniforms.  Football uniforms.  I mean, anything," he says.

Vitti says several private donors have already expressed an interest in paying to change the sports uniforms, which will be the brunt of the cost. Remaining costs, like changing the marquee on the side of the school, will come from capitol dollars and not, Vitti says, from money that would have otherwise been available for the classroom.

And when questioned if he thought this would open a potential floodgate- Vitti disagreed. Duval schools are no stranger to potentially controversial namesakes- like Robert E. Lee High School. Vitti says there have not been any other formal name change requests that have come to his office.

One of the uniform feelings from the board, the Superintendent, and the nearly 30 people who came Monday night to vote, is that it’s about time to stop talking about the name of the school and talk more about the school itself. Vitti says he hopes raising money to change the name will lead donors to see some of the underfunding in the school itself and donate to education as well. He says however divisive this spotlight has been, he hopes one of the benefits that comes is a new attention toward the help some of the schools in our district still need.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Andy Szasz was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2012 and beat the initial cancer after receiving treatment, but after falling ill with pneumonia in December, he was rushed to the hospital and placed into an induced coma the next day when he stopped breathing. >> Read more trending news Doctors at Southampton General Hospital in England estimated he would be in a coma for a week, but they were surprised when he woke up after just four days with the help of his dog, Teddy, a 4-year-old schnauzer-poodle mix. While waiting for him to come out of a coma, Andy’s wife, Estelle, received special permission to bring Teddy into the hospital. Pet visits usually take place outside the hospital, but hospital staff made an exception for Teddy. Inside Edition reported that Andy woke up from his coma as soon as Teddy entered the hospital room and started barking. “Ted is such a remarkable little dog in many ways,” Andy said. “He’s clever, loving, loyal, funny and a right little character.” >> Related: Mastiff named Martha crowned world’s ugliest dog Fiona Hall, senior sister for the general intensive care unit, told the Daily Mail that having pets around during recovery can be incredibly beneficial for patients, their friends and families, and hospital staff. “It can be motivational, aiding recovery, and can provide a pleasant and familiar experience in what can otherwise prove to be a long, uncomfortable journey in hospital,” she said. For helping his owner wake up, Teddy was recognized by the U.K.’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), the same organization Andy adopted him from, under a special animal category. He was the only animal to win an award under the newly-created category.  >> Related: Dog saves family with nine children from house fire
  • An overweight passenger on a Spirit Airlines flights from Las Vegas to Denver said he was embarrassed and humiliated by the airline when it took away one of two seats he had booked in order to fly more comfortably. >> Read more trending news Jose Cordova told Denver 7 that he bought two seats on both his original flight to Vegas and for the return trip because of his size. 'I am a big person and I know one seat wouldn't fit for me, and to be comfortable, I wanted to have two seats,' Cordova said.  'You don't want to overhang on someone else's lap, so you want to make sure you have that extra seat without bothering anybody.'  Cordova said his flight to Vegas was fine, but Spirit overbooked his return flight and took one of his seats without asking. >> Related: United Airlines changes policy after man dragged from flight “They stole one of his seats. They sold it out from under him,” Denver 7 quoted one of Cordova’s friend Scott Tenorio as saying. Spirit apologized to Cordova and said it was refunding the cost of his flights. It also said it was investigating what happened.
  • A 14-year-old girl fell 25 feet from a gondola ride at Six Flags Amusement Park in Queensbury, New York, Saturday night as a group of park guests gathered under her to help break her fall. >> Read more trending news The “Sky Ride” was stopped at the park about 55 miles north of Albany when the accident happened, according to CBS News. The teenager was on the ride with a child relative when she fell from the two-person car, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.  The ride was stopped after the operator was told of a rider in distress, CBS reported. The video shows the girl somehow slipped through the safety bar, which briefly held her aloft while she dangled in the air. The teen from Delaware struck a tree before landing in the crowd, which had gathered to catch her. She was treated at the park, then taken to an area hospital. >> Related: Girl, 11, dies after falling out of ride at water park Park officials said the ride was working properly. “There does not appear to be any malfunction of the ride, but we have closed the attraction until the a thorough review can be completed,” USA Today reported park officials said in a statement. Another person was injured as he was trying to help catch the girl.
  • A missing North Carolina teenager, who vanished last year, has turned up at a home in Georgia. Hailey Burns, now 17, has been reunited with her family at an undisclosed location in Georgia, according to law enforcement sources. >> Read more trending news A FBI special agent in Charlotte learned of information that led investigators to a home in Duluth, Georgia, where they found Burns. A man found at the home, Michael Ren Wysolovski, was taken into custody and is now facing a number of state charges, the FBI said. The FBI in Charlotte and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department will continue their investigation into Burns' disappearance and will work closely with the FBI Atlanta and the Gwinnett County Police Department.  Burns  was last been seen at her Charlotte-area home on May 23, 2016. Police said at the time they had information that she may have left of her own accord and they weren’t sure if she had help. “You have to let go of the hope that she will just walk through the door, the teen’s mother, Shaunna Burns, said in a later interview. “We are past that point. She is not just going to come home in the middle of the night. You have to hope that they still find her, wherever she is.” >> Related: Body, likely missing Arkansas boy, found after 3 relatives discovered dead “You have to distract yourself because you will drive yourself crazy wondering what you could have done, or could be doing,” her father, Anthony Burns, said after his daughter disappeared.
  • Like other first year students corralled in Wesleyan College’s auditorium in Macon, Georgia, Dana Amihere didn’t know what to make of the spectacle unfolding on stage. >> Read more trending news It was fall 2006 and the freshman had been awakened in the dead of night. A group of sophomores stood on stage yelling, screaming and cheering as part of a hazing ritual that seemed part pep rally, part seance, she said. But one feature struck Amihere, an African American, about the young women on stage tormenting the first year students: They wore purple, hooded robes. “They looked just like Klan robes,” she said. “It was kind of like bells and whistles going off.” Amihere had no idea at the time how close she was to the truth. For more than a century, the nation’s oldest college chartered for women has had historical links to the Ku Klux Klan that have never been formally acknowledged. Its class names in 1909, 1913 and 1917 were the Ku Klux Klan. The 1913 yearbook is named the “Ku Klux.” A sketch of a masked night rider on horseback galloping under crescent moon graces the title page. The 1910 yearbook contains a prominent sketch of a female figure in white hood and robe holding a burning cross. Read more here.

The Latest News Videos