DLC chooses Archie Williams as final name for High School 1327

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Dominic Haggard

An illustration shows the finality of Drake High School’s potential new name “Archie Williams” as the name change process comes to an end.

On May 6, the Drake Leadership Council (DLC) voted by a strong majority to suggest the name “Archie Williams” as the new name of Sir Francis Drake High School to the TUHSD Board of Trustees. The DLC thought that this name would help heal the tarnished reputation that the slave trading of Sir Francis Drake left on the school.

Ever since the DLC voted to permanently change the school’s name on Nov. 19, 2020 from Sir Francis Drake, they have considered numerous suggestions for the new name, as well as strategies for the school to work towards anti-racism. 

On Apr. 30, the DLC sent four possible names – Oak Valley, Cascade, Bon Tempe, and Archie Williams – to the community for feedback in the form of a survey. 

At the DLC meeting on Thurs., May 6, council members put forward the name Archie Williams to the TUHSD Board of Trustees. If the board approves it, the name will be finalized as the new name of Drake High School.

Because of Archie Williams’ core qualities as a teacher and community member, the DLC believes that he is the right person to memorialize as the name of our school.

“[Archie] was all about values. Unity, Integrity, passion, hard work, loving others more than you love yourself,” said Carlos Williams, son to Archie Williams.

A long time Drake teacher, Archie Williams was also an accomplished Olympic athlete and served in the U.S. military. He won the 400 meter race at the 1936 Berlin Summer Olympics during the rise of Nazi Germany. After graduating from the College of San Mateo and the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in mechanical engineering, he became a pilot and U.S. Air Force officer. His accomplished career culminated in becoming a computer science and math teacher at then Sir Francis Drake High School.

Although the name “Bon Tempe” racked up the most votes from HS 1327 community members in the original name change voting tournament, the DLC felt that the name would be controversial because of the blurry history. 

“I do think that has the potential of being controversial … The family has been referred to as settler colonialism,” said council member Richard Marshall. 

Other council members soon agreed, some saying that the name “Bon Tempe” doesn’t accomplish the inclusivity that the name change was brought forward to do. A few at this point started indicating their preference for “Archie Williams.”

After tossing “Bon Tempe,” the DLC ruled out “Oak Valley” and “Cascade.” They felt that “Cascade” would be the wrong choice considering there was already a school in Fairfax with the name “Cascade Canyon.” “Oak Valley” was voted out as well because council members believed that a geographical item could not bring as many memories as a former HS 1327 teacher and Marinite.

A community member felt similarly about this topic, though for different reasons.

“I think that the DLC should reflect about how having a landscape name over Archie Williams would demonstrate a hesitancy to explicitly underscore racial injustice,” said Drake alumni Stefanie Graeter.

After exploring each of the four options, the DLC believed it was time to officially vote to suggest the name “Archie Williams” to the board. The final vote was almost unanimous, with 14 council members agreeing and one abstaining. The next step will be for the Board of Trustees to either approve or deny “Archie Williams” as the new name of Drake High School.

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