Serra High School community ready to drop controversial mascot, name
For some, Saint Junipero Serra is a model of Catholic outreach, helping to establish the California we know today.
And for others, he and the conquistadors that marched along the western world were responsible for the torture, slave labor and genocide of Native Americans.
It’s in that spirit that several members of the Serra High School community want to send their school name and mascot back into the history books.
A petition, started by the students of the high school, then adapted by the principal, asks to get rid of the name and mascot, saying it “glorifies abuses and hides the true history of Spanish colonization.”
“There’s movements all over the country replacing these mascots,” Charlotte Taila, the Serra junior who started the petition, along with her sister Emma, said. “It’s now or never…why can’t we do our part to better serve our community?”
“There is a history here, there is a tradition here,” Serra principal Dr. Erica Renfree said. “No one’s trying to erase the history, but we’re building upon the new learning that not only this country has had, but our students [have had].”
According to the school district, any school can apply to change its name after hosting community meetings, then sending a proposal with a new name to the board.
“As long as there’s community support for the name change and the principal supports the name change…it will go to the school board for final approval,” Samer Naji, Facilities Communications Supervisor for SDUSD said.
The initiative has support from many in the athletic world at Serra as well, ready to choose a new mascot after being Conqusitadors since the school’s founding in 1976.
“This issue is much bigger than name,” Serra football coach Dru Smith said. “If this helps restore some justice to the people that have been harmed by it, I’m all for it.”