BY JIM MASTERS, EDUCATION REPORTER
LANSING, Ill. (June 22, 2021) – TF South remains a high school without a nickname.
In a 4-2 vote Tuesday, and without discussion, the District 215 Board of Education voted down a resolution to change the school nickname to “Redwolves.”
“Redwolves” had been the favored name after two student polls this past school year. But there has been obvious dislike for the name if not dissatisfaction with the process among some students and school staff.
Voting no on the resolution were board members Andrea Ballard, Dianna Jackson, Dr. Christopher Dodd, and Morgan Waller. Board President Rita Oberman and member Richard Dust, a former TF South teacher and coach, voted yes on the name change.
Dust, who initially proposed doing away with “Rebels” after students had expressed dissatisfaction with the name, said he believed students had ample opportunity for input on a new nickname. He had proposed the name change in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer, and felt the time had come to make the change.
Teacher pleads for patience
Prior to the vote, TF South social studies teacher Chris Roberts pleaded with the board to halt the process until students fully return to the classroom in the fall. He believes that not enough students participated in the process, as the final choices were a matter of a select student committee.
There were 324 students who responded to the first poll and 366 to the second. In both polls, “Redwolves” came out the favorite. Roughly 1,800 students are enrolled at TF South.
Roberts believes many students would have preferred a “none of the above” checkbox on the student polls, and that choosing a new school nickname deserves more time for participation and consensus.
“We have not seized the opportunity to incorporate the voices of all those who are stakeholders in this school,” said Roberts, a 2002 TF South graduate. “We can do something big and rebrand our school for future generations. We have the chance to bring school spirit back to our community with a new name.”
He noted that 25 staff members are also TF South graduates, but none were invited to be on the naming committee. And it seems he and others got their wish, as the administration will likely have to reinitiate the process over the summer and into the fall and ensure a true majority of the school community are on board with a new name.
Students remain “mascotless”
Kyndall Jackson, an incoming junior and a member of the naming committee, previously stated that the group had been lacking in participation if not robust discussion. The pandemic had relegated the student meetings to online sessions.
“We can utilize the 10 extra minutes during second period to cast votes on names for a mascot,” Jackson said in a letter to the school board. “Instead of having a small group of students decide which names make it into the final round, we have the entire school decide. This way, students will not have to feel like they were kept in the dark about a resolution that will directly affect them.”
She added that school staff should also be involved because they are “members of the TF South family.”
In her letter to the board, incoming junior Sarahi Sida-Valdez also criticized the process, feeling it had been rushed and not inclusive enough.
“It feels like our opinions are getting obliterated simply because the school does not want to be ‘mascotless’ for a longer period,” she said. “This year was hard for many of the students who were constantly staring at screens all year, feeling like they had not control over anything happening in their school career. This decision is something we should have control over, so please let us.”
TF South High School is located at 18500 Burnham Avenue, Lansing, IL.
An earlier version of this story listed the vote as 3-2 against “Redwolves.” It has been corrected to include Morgan Waller’s vote, making the finally 4-2 against the nickname.
District 215 Board meetings occur on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Subscribe to receive meeting agendas, as well as other news about Lansing’s schools, in your inbox:
- ‘Redwolves’ is favored as new TF South nickname, but some students aren’t so sure (May 30, 2021)
- District 215 Board votes to dissolve TF South “Rebels” Nickname (August 26, 2020)
- Results shared from TF South student survey on “Rebels” nickname (August 24, 2020)