SAN ANTONIO – The Judson Independent School District school board agreed on Tuesday to change the name of the district's third high school to Veterans Memorial High School.
The name change comes after much discussion and debate, with the board having previously voted to keep the original name, Willis R. Mackey High School, in December. Tuesday morning's 5-1 vote reversed that course, and the meeting erupted in cheers and applause.
"Should have been done in September. Should have been done in December. But I'm glad it's finally done," said Daniel Plante, who said he was "very happy" with the name change.
Before the morning was done, workers were already pulling off the old name from high school, letter by letter.
In September, the board voted to name the school after Willis Mackey, the district's former superintendent who retired in 2014. At that time, school leaders said they went through nearly 400 name submissions that came from a community-input survey, and decided on Willis R. Mackey High School.
Many parents and residents however insisted that the name should honor the community's veterans. The new name, Veterans Memorial, was one of the submissions.
District 4 trustee Jose Macias praised the name change and said the "community wanted something to be proud of, and simply they were not proud of the previous name for the school."
"And they went through a process where they didn't just say once they didn't like the name," Macias said. "They were systematically involved in the process from the beginning to today."
Not everyone was for the change. Randy Pannell said he knew Mackey and felt the two original votes should have been enough.
"Once you make a decision you should stick with that decision. If nothing else, integrity and not break under political pressure," Pannell said after the vote.
Last month, voters rejected funding an expansion at the high school in a bond election. Macias suggested the name of the high school may have played a hand.
"There were some concerns where they did not vote for Proposition 3, and there may have been some residual in regards to the name," Macias said.
The trustee believes the new name will unite the community, though, and when the school finally opens its members will back the Veterans Memorial Patriots together.
The school will open in August with about 450 freshmen and sophomores. Enrollment for junior and seniors will happen over the next two years, according to the district.