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Friday, July 1, 2016 05:10 pm

Naming right

 A follow-up to a follow-up: I recently noted (see "Ask the kids") that School District 186 has begun the process of devising a formal process for renaming district facilities. 

Is it a process that school boards lacked in the past, or gumption? In "A school by any other name" I complained about how it’s been done in recent years.

In the Springfield of yore, the first public schools were given the number of the ward in which each stood. This is like naming your kids Child One, Child Two, and so on. And District 186 disdained naming its newest high after a person or local landmark, naming it Springfield Southeast. I mean, no one’s heard of Colonel John H. Wilson Jr., after whom the Postal Service named the main PO in Springfield, but that’s still better than calling it the Out Toward I-55 Building.

Better, I concluded, to ask the kids to do it. 

By chance, I later ran across a brief report from the Illinois State Journal from Dec, 27, 1966 about the naming of District 186’s newest high school. The board had named it Springfield Southeast but hisses and boos from the public led the board to reconsider. One “adult group” suggested Nathanial Hawthorne High, which suggests that the trauma of high school English class had left its mark.

The ISJ added that students had proposed their own namees. One was Shadrach Bond, the state’s first gov. Edgar Lee Masters was suggested. So were V.Y. Dallman and Willis J Spaulding, fathers of the city's public power system and builders of Lake Springfield. 

At least one kid proposed Adlai Stevenson High (team nickname The Ambassadors, which is better than Wishy-Washy Liberals). And someone said, just name it Feitshans, the name of the school it replaced; nothing come up in the years since 1921 to suggest that Frederick Feitshans, the longtime teacher and administrator for whom it had been named, did not still merit the honor.

The board picked none of them, and Southeast it remains to this day. Like I said, the next time just ask the kids. 

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