Mayor says inside view put stop to Tiger Pride

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Cape Girardeau students' proposal to promote school pride by renaming a street was undermined by opposition in their own school district, one city official says.

On Tuesday, Cape Girardeau Mayor Jay Knudtson visited Central High School to explain to about 50 student senate members why the city council voted against changing the name of the street that runs in front of their new campus from Silver Springs Road to Tiger Pride Drive.

The mayor brought with him a copy of the school newspaper, which contained an editorial proclaiming democracy failed the students.

"I'm disturbed you feel the democratic process didn't work. I think it did work," Knudtson said.

Students attended a city council meeting to propose the street name change in October. The proposal received initial approval from the council, contingent upon the agreement of other property owners along Silver Springs and local emergency workers.

That agreement didn't come. The Cape Girardeau Police Department and three property owners objected to the plan.

"A street sign shouldn't have been that big a deal. We should have gotten it," said senior Ashley Godsey.

Although the council cited the police department and property owners as the reason for voting down the issue at their Nov. 3 meeting, Knudtson said in his own opinion what really hurt the students' case was opposition from within their own school district.

"If I could make a recommendation for the next time you all attempt something like this, it would be to have unity in the whole school system," he said.

Most of the in-district opposition came from the Cape Girardeau Career and Technology Center, which is next to the high school. Officials felt that renaming Silver Springs, which runs in front of their facility as well, would distort the CTC's position as a regional school.

"Our kids were upset," said Kathy Wright, Central teacher and student senate sponsor. "The refusal was caused by people in the district. It was kind of a slap in the face."

Wright pointed out to Knudtson that the CTC officials were informed of the high school's proposal before it went to the city council and never voiced any objections.

In an earlier report, Cape Girardeau superintendent Mark Bowles told the Southeast Missourian that CTC officials' concerns about the street renaming had been resolved, and the school district would support the students' proposal.

"We're disappointed, but the process has been a learning experience," said senior Edgar Palacios. "I don't think we failed at all, because we showed such a strong support."

Even though the city council voted against it, the proposal wasn't completely defeated.

Silver Springs Road will retain that name, but street signs bearing the words "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Tiger Pride Drive" are still going up in Central's parking lots.

335-6611, extension 128

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