Students and alumni protest Hollister High School name change

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Protesters hope the San Benito School District Board of Trustees will reconsider its June 27 decision that the district’s estimates will cost $55,000.

This article was written by BenitoLink intern Juliana Luna

The name change from San Benito High School to Hollister High School by the board of trustees on June 27 has proven controversial for some former and current students.

On July 1, 20 students demonstrated at the corner of Highway 25 and Sunnyslope Road to show their disapproval of the name change.

“No name change! has been said many times. Some motorists tried to keep up with the chants by honking their horns.

Brianna Phillips was aware of the change last November when the discussion arose for the name change.

“I was really upset at first and I’m still upset as you can see,” she said.

The 17-year-old organized the protest.

“Once the ball rolled, they decided to change the name. Me and other people had had enough. I decided to form the protest as a way to fight back,” Phillips said.

She hopes this protest will cause the San Benito High School District Board of Trustees to respond to the community that disagrees with their action.

“San Benito High School all the way. In my opinion, Hollister High feels like a low budget movie, pretty much everyone in the community agrees with that,” Phillips said.

Phillips argued that certain necessities need special attention, such as building gender-neutral bathrooms and providing better food.

Another chant the students used frequently was “$50,000 down the drain.”

“There are other ways to invest that money than changing the name when we already have a name,” Phillips said.

Former high schooler Calyx Kaster returned from Missouri for the summer and protested with current high schoolers. Kaster said they [Board of Trustees] were wasting community tax money for change.

Alma Phillips is supportive of her daughter, Brianna, and agrees the name change is absurd.

“They do this behind our backs. The council does not want to hear from people and does not consider the community,” she said.

Alma said the change was behind people’s backs because the district doesn’t tape meetings and because it was at the last minute.

However, the BenitoLink has been reporting since February that the district was discuss name change as they plan to build a second secondary school.

Alma said she attended the June 27 meeting to talk about the name change, which was agenda item 12. When she introduced herself, she said Superintendent Shawn Tennenbaum greeted her.

“He said no one was showing up for the June meeting,” Alma said.

The first item the district considered was the name change, although councils generally follow the agenda in order. She said she suspected it was to get it over with before more people showed up.

At the protest, Ariana Jiminez spoke into a loud and firm megaphone, voicing the group’s position against the name change.

Jiminez created an online petition change.org against the new name and it has collected 2,032 signatures as of July 3. According to the website, the petition was created eight months ago.

“Our money is going to be spent on a name change that the majority don’t want or need,” Jiminez said.

Hollister High School’s Instagram post announcing the name change has nearly 300 comments with the majority against the decision.

Jiminez encourages true community leaders to represent people fairly.

“If you’re a real leader, you’ll listen,” she said.

“We will continue to raise our voices, keep what we do, and most importantly, keep San Benito High School,” Jiminez said.

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