Debate over J.E.B. Stuart High School name change continues

There was strong turnout for community Monday, May 23, 2016 at J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, Va. People got in small groups to write their opinions about a possible school name change on large sheets of paper. At the end of the meeting, the papers were hung in a hallway for all to see. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
There was strong turnout for the community meeting Monday, May 23, 2016 at J.E.B. Stuart High School, in Falls Church, Va., regarding a possible renaming of the school. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

The debate over whether to change J.E.B. Stuart High School's name has been going on for months. A recent survey found 56 percent of community members oppose changing the name. Others say it's disrespectful to honor the school's namesake, a Confederate leader. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The debate over whether to change J.E.B. Stuart High School’s name has been going on for months. A recent survey found 56 percent of community members oppose changing the name. Others say it’s disrespectful to honor the school’s namesake, a Confederate leader. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Attendees of a community meeting on Monday, May 23, 2016, were asked to put together lists, such as this one, weighing the pros and cons of a possible name change for J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, Va. The papers were hung in the hallway of the school. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Attendees at a community meeting on Monday, May 23, 2016, were asked to put together lists, such as this one, weighing the pros and cons of changing the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church. The papers were hung in the hallway of the school. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Attendees at a community meeting on Monday, May 23, 2016, were asked to put together lists, such as this one, weighing the pros and cons of changing the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church. The papers were hung in the hallway of the school. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

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There was strong turnout for community Monday, May 23, 2016 at J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, Va. People got in small groups to write their opinions about a possible school name change on large sheets of paper. At the end of the meeting, the papers were hung in a hallway for all to see. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
The debate over whether to change J.E.B. Stuart High School's name has been going on for months. A recent survey found 56 percent of community members oppose changing the name. Others say it's disrespectful to honor the school's namesake, a Confederate leader. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)
Attendees of a community meeting on Monday, May 23, 2016, were asked to put together lists, such as this one, weighing the pros and cons of a possible name change for J.E.B. Stuart High School in Falls Church, Va. The papers were hung in the hallway of the school. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON — In a packed room at J.E.B. Stuart High School, in Falls Church, on Monday night, Fairfax County Public Schools officials listened as parents, students and alumni debated whether the school’s name should be changed.

Controversy over the school’s name has been going on for months. Those favoring the name change say it’s disrespectful to honor the Confederate leader.

“It should be changed to something that would better fit the values at Stuart,” said Anna Rowan, a senior at the school.

On Monday, community members broke into small groups to discuss the pros and cons of changing the name.

Rowan said that learning that her high school was named after the Confederate leader as a symbol of resistance against school integration in the late 1950s made her want to speak up.

Alumnus Paul Clark said there were more important things that need the public’s attention than the school’s name.

“When you start changing names and revising history just because somebody doesn’t like that particular name I think you can run into some real trouble,” Clark said.

In a survey that aimed to take the pulse of the community, 56 percent said the name should not change.

“Hopefully they’ll leave the name the way it is,” Clark said.

Fairfax County officials say the change would cost just under $700,000.

WTOP’s Keara Dowd and Michelle Basch contributed to this report.

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