A proposal to paint the oldest school in the Sweetwater Union High School District brown is no more after Sweetwater High School alumni and the community of National City let district officials know they wouldn’t stand for it.
“We’ve listened to the community and whatever the community wants we’re going to support,” said Sweetwater Superintendent Dr. Ed Brand.
Brand said the district had planned to paint the older buildings of the high school brown to match the new office and administrative building that sits in front of the school. The new facility was completed in 2011.
But after seeing the community banded together and hearing the concerns of the alumni at a community meeting, Brand said the district agreed to keep Sweetwater’s traditional red and gray colors for its older buildings, which will get a new coat of paint this summer. The buildings will also get a trim of white paint.
“After much discussion, we will keep its colors of red, gray and white,” Brand said.
National City Councilwoman Mona Rios, a fourth-generation alumna of Sweetwater, was present at the meeting and said painting the school a different color would have gone against the traditions and legacy that was built with the red and gray.
“We have a lot of history in that school,” she said.
Rios said the district never consulted with her or other council members about the change in colors.
She said she was made aware of the possible color change when Sweetwater staff, students and alumni reached out to her on Facebook.
Rios said she heard concerns from people who were concerned with the loss of identity if the school were to be painted another color.
Alma Sarmiento, president of the Sweetwater High School Alumni Association, said she felt “violated” that the district would even think about painting the only high school in National City.
Sarmiento said she would have liked the district to have been more communicative with its plans.
“National City is a proud city, we have come a long way and we’re very proud of our accomplishments and when we feel that someone is coming in and doing something that we didn’t participate in the discussion with them it’s a slap in the face,” she said.
Brand said the community support in speaking against the color change was overwhelming.
“I think it just shows pride that the community has for the school,” he said. “Their motto is SUHI Lives and I think if you’re a resident of National City, Sweetwater High School is in your heart and it’s part of your DNA.”
“I think the district is always trying to honor the tradition and we let the community help guide us in those decisions.”