Shenandoah County's school board wants to remove Confederate links by changing the names of two buildings in the district. Schools
Shenandoah County's school board wants to remove Confederate links by changing the names of two buildings in the district.

District voted to retire Stonewall Jackson name and Rebel mascot earlier this year

WOODSTOCK-Shenandoah County officials want to get rid of Confederate links to local schools. During their Sept. 10 meeting, the county’s school board voted to rename Stonewall Jackson High and Ashby Lee Elementary. They also need a new mascot at North Fork Middle School, where the Rebel no longer fits. To help with this, they want people to share naming ideas. 

In a statement sent out to media, the school board asked for “names who are considered famous historical figures.” Specifically, they’d like people who “made significant contributions to [the] advancement of education in Shenandoah County, in Virginia or in the nation.” 

This is the latest step in a process that started June 25, when the board adopted a resolution condemning racism. In the wake of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis and the riots that followed, Shenandoah was one of several districts that examined connections to the past and considered if things needed to change.

A Call For Change

Over the next two weeks, they received letters and a Change.org petition signed by 2,172 local residents, all asking for Confederate names to be removed from the schools.  

One of those residents was Kelsey Kauffman, who wrote on the petition that Shenandoah doesn’t need to glorify Confederate soldiers. 

“I recently moved to Woodstock and plan to enroll my daughter in Shenandoah County schools when she is of age,” Kauffman wrote. “It’s important to me that she be raised in a place that honors the humanity of all its students and does not glorify people who fought for slavery.” 

At the next meeting on July 9, the school board received the petition, as well as an opposing one calling for the district to keep its traditions. By a 5-1 vote, the board agreed to change the name at Stonewall Jackson High and Ashby Lee Elementary. They also voted to do away with the Rebel mascot at North Fork Middle School. But board members want local residents to help decide what the replacements will be. 

School Board Sets Criteria, Timeline

Now for anyone with name ideas, you can submit those here. There are some rules you have to follow, however. First, you can’t recommend anyone living. The school board’s policy says buildings can only be named for someone who’s been dead at least 10 years. Also, any controversial suggestions will be removed from the list. Anyone can take part, but again, any obscene or otherwise controversial ideas will be tossed. As of Friday night, at least on social media, only one suggestion had been submitted. A New Market resident asked for the board to keep Stonewall Jackson as the high school’s name.

People have until Oct. 31 to take part, at which point the names will be turned over to committees at each school. That’s step three in the plan. The naming committees will go through the list and make a recommendation to the board at some point next year. Each group will consist of students, staff and community members. 

According to the superintendent’s plan, a final decision would take place no earlier than July 2021.