Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What's in a name?

The Generals Banner waves above us, we love the blue and grey we see. The opening line of the Lee High School Alma Mater. (above)

The new Lee High School is seen under construction in this August file photo. The new facility may get a new name when it opens its doors next fall. (The Huntsville Times)

Broad Academy, I mean Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Casey Wardinskyi finally has an idea I can agree with. Pick your teeth up off the floor and stay with me.
Lee High School Shakeup: Huntsville Superintendent Says He Wants To Create New Identity
Huntsville's Superintendent of Education has had a firestorm of complaints since an idea came out Tuesday night at a PTA meeting. The controversy is over the idea to rename Lee High School once it opens.

Dr. Casey Wardynski stresses it's an idea right now.

New Century Technology School will move into the new campus, merging with students and staff from the current Lee High School, once the new high school is finished.

In a PTA meeting last night at New Century Technology School, parents expressed concern their students would lose their identity when they move to the new school.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Lee High School Alum. As a matter of fact, Lee High School is where I learned about print journalism as a member of Quill and Scroll Honorary Journalism Society, feature editor of The Traveller, the award winning school newspaper, and a member of the Silver Sabre year book staff. This was back in the day when public schools encouraged young minds to explore the possibilities of life and exposed them to new ideas regardless of race, sex or class, but I digress.
Crystal Bonvillian, of The Huntsville Times, writes;
Times readers also took to and Facebook Wednesday afternoon to offer their opinions on the possible name change. Most were against it.
"Leave it Lee High School!" one commenter calling himself Robertos said. "We don't need any outsider coming in, trying to change our history or traditions."
Other commenters also said that the name should remain. Most assumed that the school was named after Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
The school, which has a general as a mascot, was named for the Lee Highway, which stretched from Arlington, Va., to California. The highway was named after the general
Uh, Crystal, the school was named for the Robert E. Lee Highway, so it's not an assumption the school was named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee, it's a FACT.

During my tenure at Lee High School, there was a larger than life painting of General Robert E. Lee astride his horse in front of the Confederate Flag on the wall of the school Gymnasium.

The award winning school newspaper was named The Traveller, after Lee's Horse.

The Dance Team was named The Confederettes. The uniforms were emblazoned with the stars and bars.

The football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, gymnastics and other teams are known as Lee Generals.

The Band played Dixie at every pep rally and football game, and the black students would fight...each other.

The Confederate Flag was displayed and waved proudly along with the Alabama State Flag and the American Flag on the flag pole, at the pep rally, and the ball games.

Lee High School is located at 606 Forrest Circle which is named for General Nathan Bedford Forrest.
Nathan Bedford Forrest (July 13, 1821 – October 29, 1877) was a lieutenant general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. He is remembered both as a self-educated, innovative cavalry leader during the war and as a leading southern advocate in the postwar years. He served as the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, a secret vigilante organization which launched a reign of terrorism against blacks, carpetbaggers, scalawags and Republicans during Reconstruction in the South.[1]
A cavalry and military commander in the war, Forrest is one of the war's most unusual figures. Less educated than many of his fellow officers, Forrest had amassed a fortune prior to the war as a planter, real estate investor, and slave trader. He was one of the few officers in either army to enlist as a private and be promoted to general officer and division commander by the end of the war. Although Forrest lacked formal military education, he had a gift for strategy and tactics. He created and established new doctrines for mobile forces, earning the nickname The Wizard of the Saddle.[2]
It's past time for Lee High School to lose its name. I agree with okidutmsvaco;
New School, new name, I like it. Why not?
Besides, it's not like Lee is a stellar high school of academic excellence. It's not Grissom or Bob Jones. Why not break with the past and start fresh, not taint this monster new modern high school campus with the old?

And it's certainly unfair to the New Century Students who are being shuffled around the school system like step children at the family reunion. What IMJara said;
No, everyone complaining about Lee's loss of identity is ignoring the fact that New Century has a stellar reputation and has never been anything but USED by the former superintendent. New Century has to lose the only thing it has, it's name, and your suggesting New Lee High is an insult to them. We need to change it to something that doesn't just say...hey...we are the school and we will deign to have you here. The New Century honors should be recognized, not covered up. The new name will not be New Century, but it should reflect a common goal. I liked someone's suggestion on a different article for something like Rocket City High. Neither school will be given preference in that
I think the new school should be named in honor and memory of Dr. James I. Dawson, the first African American elected to the Huntsville City School Board. Better him than a Confederate, Civil War General and the Grand Wizard of the KKK.
Fight for the blue! Fight for the Grey!


Black Diaspora said...

There's an old Negro Spiritual with the title, "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen."

Redeye, you have certainly seen your share of "trouble," and, despite it, have prevailed. For that, I salute you with words from another prevailer, one Louis Armstrong.

Mack Lyons said...

Damn. All the years I've been living in Huntsville and the name of the school and that whole Confederate theme just never clicked. I never put two and two together. "606 Forrest Circle" pretty much did it for me.

The school needs a new name, but it'll have to be something everyone can get behind. Sadly, it may have to be something a bit neutral like "Columbia" (I know, already taken).

Redeye said...

@Black Diaspora, I was born during troubled times, but it was nothing like the trouble or the times my parents, their parents and my parents parents were born in. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. We are a resilient race of people.

If anyone has a reason to hate white people it's black people. But we don't. That's why I laugh out loud every time I am accused of hating white folks. I love all of my fellow human beings.

Black people are a forgiving race. We fall down, but we get up. We made it through the Middle Passage, Slavery, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement we can survive anything.

@Mack Lyons-. "606 Forrest Circle" pretty much did it for me.

Un huh. I know they want to ignore the Confederate theme and the history but they can't. Lee High School needs a new name and a new image.

"The school needs a new name, but it'll have to be something everyone can get behind. Sadly, it may have to be something a bit neutral like "Columbia" (I know, already taken)."

Everybody is not going to get behind a new name. This is where courage and leadership come in. I feel the pain of the Lee High School and New Century Technology alums. It's the same pain alums,students and faculty at Council High, Council Training School, Toney Jr. High School,Farmer Capitol and other "black" schools were closed.

At least there will be a continuation of Lee and New Century Technology School, unlike what happened to those schools, their legacies, history,memories and memorabilia.

The school should be named in memory of Dr. James I. Dawson. It would be a fitting tribute to a man who made a contribution to the school system, and it would symbolize a new beginning for a new school.

I can't help wondering if this is Wardinskyi's Waterloo. :)

Dale Jackson said...

The name will not change.

Are you intentionally misspelling his name? WARDYNSKI

Good job, by the way, shutting down the dissent on your blog.

Redeye said...

The name will not change.

Dale Jackson has spoken.

Black Diaspora said...

@Redeye: "I love all of my fellow human beings.

"Black people are a forgiving race. We fall down, but we get up."

Well said. Yes we do!