Forrest High to hold last graduation ceremony

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It will be the end of an era for one local school on Wednesday.

Forrest High School will hold its last graduation ceremony bearing that name in its 55 year history in Jacksonville.

In January, the Duval County Public School Board voted to rename the school Westside High School.

It was initially named after Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was a Confederate general during the Civil War. But, it was his ties to the Klu Klux Klan that sparked decades of debate on the First Coast.

An online petition circulated throughout 2013 that gathered more than 160,000 digital signatures in support of a new name.

Mark McClow graduated from Nathan B. Forrest High School back in 1973. He is against the name change and calls it, " a shame."

McClow said, "it's sad that you have a diploma with a school name but no brick school to attach that name to anymore.

Despite opposition from some within the community, including McClow, the school board voted to rename Forrest High effective July 2014.

The district said all physical changes will be complete by the time school starts in late summer.

Forrest's principal declined an interview with First Coast News regarding the significance of this year's graduation ceremony.

However, the district said it will include no mention of the phasing out of Forrest's name.

The soon-to-be Westside High School is located 5530 Firestone Road.

"I don't think the Alumni from Forrest high school are going to have a connection to Westside High School," said McClow.


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