Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Totem Mascot Retired in Ceremony Attended by Tyee Alumni from Six Decades

Two alumni and a current student pose in front of flowers and two cakes.

Tyee Pride Links Totems & Titans

Tyee High School alumni from nearly six decades gathered with staff, students and community partners to mark the transition from being the Tyee Totems to becoming the Tyee Titans. Despite mixed feelings, many noted what has not changed is Tyee pride and a love for the Tyee school community.

The Tyee Mascot Retirement & School Design Information Night was July 21, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Tyee cafeteria.

Student Voice

Incoming Tyee junior Jasmine Delgado-Guerrero put it this way: "This is a small community with a very big heart full of love, acceptance and openness to change."

"Participating in this celebration makes me even more proud to be a past Totem and a future Titan," she said.

Incoming sophomore Emily Bui said students were asked what they envisioned for a new mascot and what ideas the Titan represented. "We said the Titans were strong, brave and kind. We see the Titan as a protector," she said. "We shared that we wanted everyone to be able to connect to the mascot—that it be inclusive of all genders and races." 

Bui said the school colors remain the same, a bright red and gold to honor Tyee's past and the community of alumni. "Our new logo features a shield to represent protection. The shape harkens back to the crest in our previous logo," she said. "The lightning bolt represents strength and power and connects us to the land. The shield is framed in a ribbon of Ts."

Slideshow, Land Acknowledgement & Emotions Acknowledged

A slideshow of Tyee Totem history, curated by Robin (Foster) Adams, was presented as attendees arrived. For more Totem history, visit her blog.

Tyee Assistant Principal Jay Novelo at podium

Tyee Assistant Principal Jay Novelo welcomed attendees and shared the Highline Public Schools land acknowledgement.

  • “We begin by acknowledging that we are on the ancestral land stewarded since time immemorial by the Salish people of the Duwamish, Green, White, Cedar, and Upper Puyallup Rivers, many of these giving birth to the contemporary citizens of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe. We honor and give thanks that we are able to collectively engage in this conversation on their sacred homelands about the future of teaching and caring for our sacred children and youth.”

Novelo also acknowledged the sadness some alumni are experiencing with the change and thanked them for attending the retirement celebration. He said feelings vary from those who don't understand why the mascot is changing to those who feel the change is long overdue.

2021 State Law & Tribal Consultation Drive Mascot Change

Native Education Program Manager Sara Marie Ortiz speakingv at podium.

Highline's Native Education Program Manager Sara Marie Ortiz noted her respect and appreciation for Tribal elders and Highline community elders. She provided information about the 2021 state law banning public schools from using certain Native American mascots on school grounds.

House Bill 1356, approved in the House 90-8, prohibits the inappropriate use of Native American names, symbols, or images as public school mascots, logos or team names.

Ortiz is the district liaison to the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, which is Highline's federally recognized Native American Tribe. Ortiz consulted with tribal leaders, including former Executive Director of Culture and Heritage Walter Pancheco, Jr., who passed away July 17. 

Ortiz shared the following KING5 news report and video with attendees to help with understanding the direction to change the mascot: 

"'I don't feel honored': Native mascots at schools are not only offensive; they evoke historical trauma," December 9, 2021.

1977 Graduate Explains Tyee Spirit & Friends of Tyee

Rob Flood, Tyee class of 1977, asked alumni from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s and beyond to stand by turns. Alumni were present from each decade of school history.

He described the Tyee school spirit he remembers as "Work hard, try hard, keep trying, keep going." 

"This is sad for some of us, but it doesn't have to be," Flood said. The Totem will always stay with me, but instead of Totem Pride, let's call it Tyee Pride, to include the future Titans."

Tyee Alum Rob Flood speaking from podium.

Flood is a representative of Friends of Tyee, a booster organization that works with the Highline Schools Foundation to support the nutrition and supply needs of current Tyee students in addition to what Highline Public Schools provides.

Friends of Tyee was started about five years ago by members of the class of 1967. Flood likened championships the school won in his years to the current efforts of Friends of Tyee, "We're winning, and we've got to keep winning."

He ended by noting a new school building was needed 20 years ago, and the school bond on November ballots would rebuild Tyee, if approved by voters.

Mascot Retired in Simple Ceremony

Alum Deanna Anderson gives the small Totem to Highline Heritage Museum Exec  Director.

During the mascot retirement ceremony, 2021 graduate Erick Nguyen passed a small Totem carving to Deana Anderson, class of 1979 and a volunteer with Friends of Tyee.

Anderson then passed the Totem to Highline Heritage Museum Executive Director Nancy Salguero McKay to represent the role the museum will play in preserving this part of Tyee history. 

Museum to Host Totem Artifacts; Volunteer is Tyee Alum

Salguero-McKay invited Tyee alumni to share their stories with her and to visit the museum and view some of the Totem artifacts once they are installed as part of the school district historical display. She invited museum volunteer and Tyee alum Dave Sousa to say a word. 

2 photos, one of Nancy Salguero McKay and one of Dave Souza, both speaking at podium.

Sousa, who graduated from Tyee in 1973, said he is one of seven Sousas plus two of his nephews who all graduated from Tyee High School. He owned Dave's Diner for 23 years, is now retired and volunteers as an exhibit coordinator at the Highline Heritage Museum. He noted that the dedication of the existing Tyee High School took place 59 years ago, in 1963, in the same cafeteria with the first principal Garland Duvall.

Sousa invited attendees to visit the museum and learn how they can be a part of preserving the legacy of the Totems and the history of the community. He ended by stating the first line of the Tyee school song, "Hail to Thee, Oh Red and Gold."

Tyee alum holding new mascot sticker.

Walkthrough & 2 Cakes

After the ceremony, alumni and community members were invited to take a walk through campus, visit the office and library, and the old gym and gym lobby.

Cake, coffee, lemonade and water were provided. One cake said, "Happy Retirement, Tyee Totem!" and included the retired Totem logo, and the other said, "Introducing the... Tyee Titan" and incorporated the new Titan logo.

Three-inch stickers featuring the new Titan logo were handed out to attendees.

Integrus Architecture Invited to Provide New School Design Information

Architect and image of school design on display panel.

After the mascot transition ceremony, Novelo invited Integrus Architecture Principal Architect Amy Vanderhorst to share some information about the new school building design and images of the design. Vanderhorst said the best part of her job is working with the school design review committees, composed of staff, students, alumni and community members. She said the committee guided the design of a warm, welcoming school intended to enrich, educate and set students up for success. The proposed new Tyee would be an enclosed building with a courtyard to replace the nine different existing buildings.

The designs of new Tyee and Evergreen high schools and a new Pacific Middle School are part of the school bond approved by voters in 2016. Funding for the construction of these new schools is included in the November 2022 school bond, if approved by 60% of voters.

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Below are some photos from the event. Additional photos are posted in a photo album on our Facebook page.

Event attendees seated in Tyee cafeteria listening to presentation.


Attendees listening, including incoming superintendent and school board VP.


SeaTac Councilmember Peter Kwon listening to presentation.


Attendees listening to presentation.


Student speakers at podium.


Attendees watching video.


Speakers on stage.


Two cakes and red and yellow flowers.


Two alumni posing with Class of 1979 totem carving.


People in Tyee courtyard talking.


Three Tyee alumni in front of cafeteria and Totem pole.


Two alums stand in front of Totem and school design boards.