Dolores Huerta Elementary School may be a new name for the Glen Park campus this year but they’re still working on living up to that identity.
The San Francisco Board of Education approved the name change in August but murals, signage, plaques, and books for its community to recognize the full meaning of its new namesake costs money. In turn, parents on a name change committee launched a GoFundMe to raise $20,000 to fully honor Huerta, a longtime labor leader who co-founded the National Farmworkers Association with Cesar Chavez and coined the phrase “Sí, se puede.”
“Our school is where we want to teach students the power of voice, the power of presence, the power of being, the power of standing up for dignity and fighting for equity, embodying the life lessons and activism of someone like Dolores Huerta,” said Luis Rodriguez, Dolores Huerta Elementary principal, in October. “By adopting the name of a strong Latina leader, we also would like to send a message of empowerment to all our female students, particularly our female students of color.”
Funds would go toward three new murals designed and painted with students, one of which is already in the works with Precita Eyes Muralists, according to Matt Hill, who helped launch the GoFundMe. A renaming committee is also working with a Glen Park historian to create a bronze plaque, which would go where the current cement-made monolith sign is, to commemorate the history of what’s formerly known as Fairmount Elementary.
With an achievement gap taking priority, the school’s budget has largely not covered the one-time costs associated with a renaming. Parents have already stepped in to design a new logo, one that Hill says Rodriguez put on his business card.
“This is definitely a transitional year,” Hill says. “We want Dolores Huerta and her activism and that spirit to be part of the curriculum as well.”
That’s where funds for books at every grade level would come in, to educate students about who she is and how she shaped history. Plus, they’re planning an event with Huerta herself in May.
Hill is the parent of a second grader at Dolores Huerta Elementary who was already well aware of her school’s new namesake. But he wants the ethos to match when his incoming kindergartner starts attending as well.
He finds it particularly powerful that Huerta will go from being clubbed by a San Francisco police officer during a 1988 protest — in which the city paid a $825,000 settlement after her ribs were fractured and spleen ruptured — to having a whole school named after her.
“We want to embrace it,” Hill says. “We want to make this school feel like Dolores Huerta Elementary.”