GHS Student Forum Addresses the Renaming of the JWPAC


Arline Daniali, Staff Writer

Earlier this year, the GUSD Student Coalition Advocating for Black Lives brought current students, alumni, and faculty together demanding change in various factors across the District. One of these changes involved the renaming of the John Wayne Performing Arts Center (JWPAC), which is located on the campus of Glendale High School. 

In response to this, on October 28th, ten teachers and administrators, eight student moderators, and over forty GHS students joined a Zoom forum to share their opinions of whether the auditorium should stay as the JWPAC or be renamed. 

The performing arts center is named after the actor John Wayne, a famous Glendale High School alumnus. Despite acting in numerous films, John Wayne has a problematic history regarding racist and homophobic statements he has made in the past. His support for white supremacy, his lack of empathy towards Indigenous people, and his blatant homophobia are on display in the infamous Playboy interview from 1971

With this in mind, students from most 3rd Period classes volunteered to take part in this discussion. In individual breakout rooms, they answered questions including how they felt when they initially read the LA Times article, who has been or is being impacted by the words spoken, and what actions could be done now. There was a student moderator in each room, as well as an adult to take notes and make sure everyone was being respectful. 

Student opinion varied, with some concerned students not wanting to be represented by a racist man, to other students arguing for other ways to fight racism rather than renaming the auditorium. Students then reflected on the discussion, and went back into the main room to reflect as a whole group. 

Finally, every student present voted on whether or not they wanted the name to be changed. The vote was 38 in favor of changing the name, versus 8 votes against the change and 2 people abstaining from a decision.

Despite some passionate students speaking out towards the end of the forum, the discussion went smoothly with great respect shown between students. The conversation on whether the John Wayne Performing Arts Center should be renamed or not is nowhere near over, but rather it is just beginning. 

Overall, student voice is shown to have an immense impact on our community, and it is incredibly important to the District as well as our administration here at GHS. A special shout out to Mrs. Stafford for putting all of this together and to all the students who volunteered to speak at this forum!