After a months-long contentious debate, Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton will be getting a new name and what that new name is could be up to you.
On Monday, October 8, the Staunton City School Board voted 4 to 2 in favor of changing the school’s name, which has been in place for more than a century.
This decision comes after months of public listening sessions and comment periods where the board heard from scores of community members both for and against the Lee moniker.
The high school is also due to undergo construction in the near future, and board members discussed adding a designated section in the new building dedicated to sharing the high school’s full history.
"People in our community, including students, have let us know that the name of the high school is inappropriate,” Christine Poulson, who’s on the school board, said. “It harkens back to a time when blacks were not considered equal to whites. For some, it evokes pain and injustice. To ignore the express pain of another is not something that a true family member does."
The four board members who voted in favor of changing the name are all newly elected to the school board.
"For the purpose of this discussion and consideration, I cannot favor renaming the high school,” Bob Boyle, who’s on the school board, said. “However, I will accept any decision by the board because I'm very weary of this long contentious debate because we need to move on."
Now, the school system is asking for more public input to decide what to rename the school.
The school plans to post an online survey by 12 p.m. Tuesday, October 9, where community members will be able to suggest new name suggestions.
The school board’s goal is to work toward healing and addressing achievement gaps in the school system.
Ultimately, board members will make the final decision on what to rename the school.