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How students and staff feel about the potential name change for California middle school

<i>KSBW</i><br/>La Paz Middle School in Salinas could be getting a new name— During a school board meeting
La Paz Middle School in Salinas could be getting a new name— During a school board meeting

By Ariana Jaso

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    SALINAS, California (KSBW) — La Paz Middle School in Salinas could be getting a new name— On Tuesday night during a school board meeting, the Salinas Unified High School District listened to public comment on possibly changing the school’s name.

Many students and teachers from La Paz Middle School showed up to voice their opposition to the name change. The proposed new name for the middle school is in honor of Dolores C. Huerta— a civil rights activist who fought alongside Cesar Chavez.

Although students and staff expressed their acknowledgment of the profound impact by the activist, they say they hold the name “La Paz,” near and dear to their hearts.

One student, Maria Sanchez said, “When we’re older, we want to remember our school by its original name and we also feel like when it’s changed it’s going to be like we’re going to be forgotten.”

Another student, Maria Sanchez expressed similar feelings and said, “Me as a student, I have seen that many students don’t want the name change. So many of our family members have been going to La Paz that it’s just really impacting. So we would want La Paz to stick around for as long as we can remember.”

Many in the community say ‘La Paz’ is more than just a name, it’s an inspiration.

La Paz Middle School teacher, Sonia Gutierrez said, “La Paz translates in English to peace, so people can have some sense of calmness or feeling like there’s hope within our community.”

Teachers also pointed out that there already are many other schools in California named after the activist.

Amara Bell, who’s also a teacher at La Paz Middle school said, “We definitely recognize Dolores Huertas impact on our community but there are already five schools in California named Dolores Huerta.”

A number of teachers also argue that the money that would be spent on a name change should be used for other much needed resources.

“We are lacking other resources, we’re lacking support— with teachers, support staff, I feel that money could be used for that,” Gutierrez said.

Bell added, “Is this really the best thing for our district to be spending money on at the current moment? We feel that there’s maybe more important things that can be done.”

One suggestion staff has for the new name is to possibly name a new health center that’s set to be built at the school after Dolores Huerta instead. No decision was made on Tuesday so the topic is still an ongoing conversation.

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