TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) --The last Redskin class will graduate from Tulare Union High School Wednesday night. The name and mascot change is required by state law and has been coming for quite some time. But students and staff say it won't fade away.
Before they walk across the stage tonight, seniors had an all-you-can-eat breakfast this morning. It's a tradition for them, but everyone at the breakfast knew it was the end of an era.
Assembly Bill 30 requires public schools in California, including two others in the Central Valley, to drop the use of the word Redskins as a team name or mascot by January 2017.
The class of 2016 is the last to bear the name, and their senior shirts say it all: "They can take our mascot, but they will never take our pride."
Assistant principal Marshall Webb says that saying will stick, because after 25 years at Tulare Union, he takes pride in the name. He's also proud of his son, a senior who was named Redskin of the year.
"I don't think locally they understand the respect that our students and our staff give to the Redskin, and the fact that we have so much support from our local tribes behind that name," Webb said.
School officials are ahead of schedule as they plan for the change. They've finished a survey and narrowed down the new name to Tribe, Legends, or Renegades.
Tulare Union English Teacher Tom Kellogg says one of those names will be picked by the school board later this month.
"(The seniors) are happy that they are the last Redskin class, but several of them have siblings that are not going to have the honor of having that name," Kellogg said.
"There's something about the Redskin name," said senior Jadon Lippincott.
Lippincott says the Redskin name resonates with him, even though it may not mean as much to his brother, a sophomore.
"I'm taking that with me, but for the people who are behind me, they don't get to get that opportunity. I think it's going to hurt them a lot," Lippincott said.
He says the pride of being a Redskin has given him the passion to excel in mathematics.
For now, the name is going away but when Lippincott and his friends meet again for class reunions, he's confident that they'll still consider themselves Redskins.