Prince William County schools staff heard suggestions Monday night from the community as the school board looks to rename Stonewall Jackson High School and Stonewall Middle School.
Residents suggested renaming the schools after notable local and statewide figures, including former Gov. Doug Wilder, along with other suggestions, including Innovation High.
One suggestion was Celestine Braxton, a long-time educator in the county for 33 years who died in 2014. Braxton started teaching before racial segregation was ruled unconstitutional.
A petition to name the schools after Arthur Reed, a long-time security assistant at the high school, has more than 1,000 signatures.
A petition has 725 signatures to name the schools after Lucinda Griffin, a Black girl who was enslaved.
And another petition has 572 signatures to rename the high school after Ibram Kendi, a historian, educator, author and graduate of Stonewall Jackson High.
The school division held a virtual meeting Monday to gather input on possible new school names. Since the killing of George Floyd on May 25, Americans have protested police violence that disproportionately impacts African Americans and it has led local and state leaders to revisit statues and buildings honoring Confederate leaders.
Earlier this month, the school board formed naming committees for the two schools.
School Board member Lisa Zargarpur, who represents the Coles district, said she is grateful for everyone who shared these stories.
“I’ve learned so much tonight,” Zargarpur said during the meeting. “You’ve made this harder, because I like a lot of these. You were passionate, focused on the message and it was meaningful. I’m committed to listening to the community.”
School Board Chair Babur Lateef said renaming the schools will not pull funding away from scheduled renovations or future projects the school board wants to happen.
The school board remains committed to increasing funding for students who are economically disadvantaged and increasing resources at the high school.
“I don’t want anyone out there to believe that the money it will take to do this will come from anything we are going to do with Stonewall or want to do in the future,” Lateef said.
The division has scheduled a second virtual meeting to receive input Thursday, June 25.
The school board is expected to vote on a new name June 29.
Bristow resident Nichole King-Campbell said she recommends renaming it Innovation High School. King-Campbell is president of the high school’s parent organization. Her daughter is a rising senior. During the meeting Monday, she said she would be able to fundraise better if the school was renamed.
A few teachers from the two schools spoke during the virtual meeting, including one who said she surveyed more than 130 high school staff and said most agree with the renaming proposal. That teacher said they recommended renaming the school Canon Branch High after a nearby creek, Unity High or Arthur Reed High.