The Falls Church City School Board voted to rename George Mason High School to Meridian High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary to its original name, Oak Street Elementary, during a school board meeting in the Virginia city Tuesday.
One reason Meridian High School was chosen is because the city is on the original 1791 meridian, which marks the line between D.C. and Virginia. It also recognizes the school’s long history of educating global citizens through the International Baccalaureate Program.
In a release, Board Chair Shannon Litton thanked the community, saying, “This is a passionate community with a lot of thoughts and ideas. It has been an emotional experience. We received hundreds of comments and suggestions, and we appreciate each and every one.”
School Board member Sonia Ruiz-Bolanos said she hopes the name will “bring notions of inclusivity and open-mindedness.”
The board chose Oak Street Elementary because it recognizes how trees are essential natural elements of Falls Church.
The two schools are currently named after Founding Fathers who also owned slaves.
The decision follows a 10-month stretch of deliberations that started June 30. The board voted on Dec. 8 to change both names. Superintendent Peter Noonan was then tasked to form two advisory study committees to recommend five names or each school. The committees were made up of 46 FCCPS community members, staff, alumni, citizens and students.
The school board remained open to input from the public on the decisions, throughout the process. The new names are effective July 1.