Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

School board removes Ward's name from gym


May 3, 2018

By Natalie Helms

The Haines Borough school board voted unanimously Tuesday to rename Karl Ward Gymnasium as Haines High School Gymnasium.

“When I was in school that was what it was called,” said board member Sarah Swinton, who made the motion. “If we’re changing things we should go back to how it was.”

In March and April, six former Haines students came forward to say that Karl Ward, a school principal and superintendent, sexually abused or made sexual advances toward them decades ago. A plaque bearing Ward’s name was removed from outside the gym doors.

“I certainly wouldn’t want any named facility within our school to represent something that hurts people,” said board member Sara Chapell. “To hear that it hurt people that walked by the gym, it’s really terrible.”

Chapell said she would like the board to discuss in the future if it should examine other named places on district grounds. One of those is Sharnbroich Field and track, named after longtime physical education teacher Terry Sharnbroich.

“I hope that by changing the name it provides some closure for people who were affected by this,” said board president Anne Marie Palmieri.

school board member Brian Clay said if the school wanted to honor someone else down the road, there is the possibility of changing the name again. The borough assembly recently adopted a naming policy that allows the body to name public places and facilities for individuals five years after they’ve died, or for groups five years after groups have disbanded.

Board member Lisa Schwartz said the new name means the gym is now dedicated to all students instead of to one person.


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