Alumni Start Petition to Change Name of Columbus Catholic Schools

Marshfield (OnFocus) – An online petition is calling for Columbus Catholic Schools to be renamed and the statue of Christopher Columbus in front of the high school be taken down. Organized by Ruthey Schultz ‘16, Ella Schultz ‘18, and Ada Inman ‘17, alumni of Columbus Catholic High School, the petition states that changing the name of the school is a small step, but a necessary step towards justice in the community and the country.

“Ada Inman, Ruthey Schultz, and I have been talking about presenting the idea of changing the name of Columbus Catholic High School for years,” said Ella Schultz. “However, we never knew how to bring up this conversation because we understand that it is not an easy one to have.”

In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and countless other Black people and People of Color, conversations about race have been occurring across the country, as stated in the petition text.

“To us, now seemed like the best time to start having this conversation that would hopefully put the school we graduated from on the right side of history,” said Schultz. “Hopefully, all of the conversations currently happening across our country about race and privilege (that have not gotten enough attention in the past) have made their way to Marshfield, Wisconsin and will help people be more open to a much needed change.”

Prior to publishing their petition, co-organizers said they contacted the officials at Columbus Catholic Schools, including President David Eaton and Principal Michael Lambrecht, to provide a heads-up (see below). They also each individually emailed faculty/staff members with a prepared statement that expresses their reasoning for the petition and a link where those interested can sign.

Columbus statue at Columbus Catholic School in Marshfield, WI

“As the creators of the petition, we really want people to have this conversation in any way they can and remember to be kind to one another while having it. We would also respectfully ask readers to sign the petition and send it along if they are able,” said Schultz. “Additionally, we are open to suggestions from not only the alumni of Columbus Catholic Schools, but also the community as a whole.”

Organizers acknowledged that many members of the community feel a strong connection to the name of their school system, but urge that it is important to “recognize the hatred and pain Christopher Columbus represents for so many people.”

“As the creators of this petition, we cannot enact this change by ourselves; we have simply started this conversation and provided a platform on which it can take place,” she added. “We only hope that this conversation will enact change and help us achieve our goals of changing the name of Columbus Catholic Schools and removing the statue of Christopher Columbus from the front of the building.”

With the initial goal to collect 1,000 signatures, the organizers will then determine how to proceed.

“First, we are looking for approval and support from the community for this change to take place,” said Schultz. “We are hoping this will lead to an even more crucial conversation about tangible changes that will be made and how to achieve such changes. This is only the beginning of a long conversation, there is so much work that still needs to be done: with a new school name, with funding, etc. To see how much support we have received in the past few days since we have released the petition has been so beneficial for what we are trying to accomplish.”

She added that comments from petitioners have been “remarkable to read.”

“It is always so helpful to get the insight of individuals in a matter such as this,” she said. “We have also had some amazing people reach out to us and offer their help, which is always greatly appreciated!”

She added that, although all voices from the community are appreciated, organizers would like to note that they would value hearing the perspectives of People of Color in Marshfield and surrounding areas on this change.

“We want to illuminate their voices on this matter, so we can all learn how to be better allies,” she said.

Schultz also acknowledges the potential for negativity, but hopes that the petition provides a platform for progressive discussion.

“With any petition, there is a chance that it receives some negativity; we are no exception to that. I can only hope that this conversation keeps going and people will understand the incredible impact this change could have on our community!” She said. “The conversation being had about this petition so far among fellow alumni has been incredible, I can only hope it continues and some change is enacted.”

Find the petition here.

E-mail sent to CCHS officials, courtesy of Ella Schultz

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Breanna Butler
Author: Breanna Butler

Breanna Butler is an award-winning multimedia producer born and raised in Central Wisconsin. She enjoys exploring and writing about the community. She lives in Marshfield with her husband and furry family.