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With new name for Oñate High School, principal asks for unity

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- After months of uncertainty and tension, the principal of Oñate High School is asking his community to move forward and "heal as a family."

"Whether you agree with the decision or not, it's nice that we have a focus now," Principal Jim Schapekahm told ABC-7 on Wednesday.

On Tuesday night, the board voted 4-1 to give Oñate High a new name of "Organ Mountains High School," effective July 2021. Later, the board revoted to name it "Organ Mountain High School" with no 's.'

'"I know this decision is not popular with some staff, parents students, alumni, but at this time, we need to come together and move forward," Schapekahm said.

Meanwhile, Oñate High School apparel is practically flying off the shelves at Sports Accessories on Solano Drive in Las Cruces.

"Our merchandise has been doing very well with the Onate name on it," said Brian Cox, the store's owner. "We're calling this the last run."

As ABC-7 reported, the cost to change the name will be $158,500, according to board documents.

However, about two dozen people protested the decision to change the name hours before the vote. A district survey found that most students and staff members did not want a change.

Schapekahm is asking for his school to unite around their new identity, recognizing their existing achievements and history will not change.

"It's not a name that makes us great," the principal said. "It's all the people in this building."

New Mexico / News / Video

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.

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