Board decides fate of name change, passes resolution


Alyssa Boos

People converse while waiting for the board meeting to start. This meeting happened on November 8, 2021, and started at 6 pm.

Last night on November 8, 2021, the Seaman District Board of Education held their monthly board meeting where parents, community members, staff, alumni, and students got to speak on their opinions of the name change. 

The board was not slated to make a decision until December, but after much community discussion, the board unanimously passed a resolution keeping the name Seaman associated with the district, while also distancing themselves from the man who founded the district. 

President of the board, Keith Griffin, stated, “[Seaman USD 345] prides itself on being an increasingly diverse school district that values and supports the personal identities  of all its school students and staff, while acknowledging that more work must be done to address the issues of racism and bullying.”

Before the start of the board meeting at 6 pm, protesters gathered outside of the Seaman Education Center. This protest was planned mostly by students and community members, who came out to show their support for the name change. 

“Today we are all gathered here to protest the name of Seaman High School. Fred Seaman was a member of the KKK and we do not stand for that. We do not support the racism that goes on in our school and I am here today to defend those that can not defend themselves. I want to show that our school can be a welcoming environment and that starts with the growth of the name change,” sophomore Madison Wabaunsee stated on a breaking news Clipper clip. 

While there was not a counter protest, many of the people who believe the name should not change were in the building getting seats. 

At this board meeting students, staff, alumni, and community members shared their opinions on a variety of topics during the public address portion of the meeting. While some participants brought up mask mandates for pre-K through sixth grade, the majority of speakers focused on the name change. 

Jennifer Gilbert, an alumni of the Class of 1992 and a mother of a sixth grade student in the district, stated, “As an alumni and mother of a current Seaman student I want to state that I am opposed to the name change, and I am not alone. Many in the community have voiced to me their concerns and opposition to the name change as well. Tuesday’s election results confirm just how adamant the community is regarding this issue. Unfortunately, cancel culture has infiltrated our district. People have forgotten that if you don’t learn from our history you are bound to repeat it. Changing the name does not erase the history of the school and does nothing to better it either.”

Many parents and community members spoke up for keeping the name, while many students, some staff, and some parents, spoke up for the name change. 

Kate Eckert, a sophomore at Seaman High School, shared her opinion on what the name Seaman represents if the board decided to keep it. 

“If we refuse to change the name it sends a clear message to the students, we are not the priority. The words we use to represent ourselves reflect who we are. Changing the name won’t necessarily end the discrimination and racism within our school but it will communicate that you care about combating it. Listen to your students, the people who you are supposed to be representing. The words we use matter, the name needs to be changed.”

Both sides of the argument were represented during the public comment portion. 

After hearing from students, staff, parents, alumni, and community members, the board of education decided to pass a resolution on the name change, despite the original plans to make a decision in December of 2021. 

Detailed in the resolution are five sections. 

In the first section, president of the board, Keith Griffin, reads, “The actions, conduct, and beliefs in regard to Fred Seaman’s involvement in the KKK are condemned by the board of education, including the racist beliefs of the KKK.”

The second section of the resolution states that “all references to Fred Seaman, including his image and likeness shall be removed and permanently banned from all district buildings, “ with exception of a museum installation outlined in section three.  

Students who are a part of the museum class at the high school are encouraged to create an exhibit that will display Fred A. Seaman’s “repulsive involvement and associate with the KKK”. This display’s purpose is… 

For section four, Seaman USD 345 says that it understands that it must address racism and bullying that occurs within the school district and community. The board says the district will “engage our community in discussions about diversity, while celebrating the fact that others experiences may be different than ours.”

As a conclusion to the resolution, Seaman USD 345 decided to disavow any association with Fred A. Seaman. The resolution states that, “From this point forward, the district and its buildings shall be associated with the Seaman community, and its long and proud history, that has developed over the past 100 plus years, and not the individual who initially founded the high school.”

As the community remains divided on the situation and the decision last night, president Keith Griffin added, “I ask that everyone remember that we are all in this together, and our ability to succeed comes from the support of those around us.”