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Forrest High officially renamed Westside Senior High

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Updated: 1/07 8:36 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It's official. This year's seniors will be the last graduating class of Forrest High School.

The Duval County School Board voted Tuesday to change the name of the school after controversy over its namesake, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and his alleged ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Historians dispute whether that is true.

Not everyone is happy with the name change.

Joan Miller Cooper is one of several Forrest High School graduates sad to see the name of her alma mater change.

She said, "We're all very upset about it because of the way it was handled, because of the misinformation that was given out, because of the racism that was involved that should not have been."

The community voted to change the name in November of last year.

That's when Duval County School Superintendent Nikolai Vitti recommended to the board that the name be changed to Westside Senior High.

Calling the vote "rigged," Cooper is now on a new mission.

She said, "I, personally, have already started committees to ouster all of the current school board members."

She said the decision was made without people knowing the facts about Forrest. And while she has to live with the name change, she's still going to do what she can to preserve her school's memories.

"What's gonna happen to the trophies? What's gonna happen to the memorabilia?" she wondered.

The name change will take effect in July. Dr. Vitti said the school colors will stay the same. The school's new mascot has not yet been named.

The name change comes at a price to taxpayers. The school district estimates it will cost between $400,000 and $500,000 to switch signs, athletic uniforms, and everything else with the Forrest name.
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