“Huntington Beach had the Oilers, [other schools] were the Wildcats or the Tillers, all names that refer to oil drilling or farming. It was courageous to make your living off art in a worldwide depression.
“Now Laguna Beach is internationally known for its artists. It’s a wonderful mascot.”
Houts, a former president of the alumni association, says the name change is a source of anguish at alumni events and has caused a rift between the former and current student bodies and between the alumni and the district.
The Alumni Assn. — along with dissenting parents and students — had vigorously challenged the 2002 vote, claiming that balloting irregularities should have negated it.
They asked the Laguna Beach League of Women Voters to examine the student election, and the group determined that students were coerced into voting out the Artists — and the community was lied to about the fairness of the process.
Still, the decision stood, despite repeated attempts to revisit the issue.
“We are now Artists and Breakers,” Alumni Assn. President Howard Hills told the school board in June.
Hills — whose daughter, Natalie, proposed a compromise in 2002 that would rename the sports teams but leave the Artists mascot intact — has led the charge against the name change for years.
But as the years ago by and more Breakers graduate from the school — including his own children — Hills is now loathe to wash out the Breakers.
“Any solution would be worse than the problem,” he told the board.
Now Hills says he would like only an apology.
Teasing on football field
Hills says he is still mystified not only by the way in which the school mascot was changed, but also by the apparent reason for the change — embarrassment.