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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Community considers new names for JEB Stuart High School

The main entrance at Stuart.
Most of the new names for JEB Stuart High School proposed at a public meeting at the school Sept. 9 fell into these categories:
  • Honoring a civil rights advocate, particularly Barbara Rose Johns or Justice Thurgood Marshal
  • Selecting a name based on geographic location
  • Honoring another historical figure.
The Fairfax County School Board passed a resolution in July directing the superintendent to begin a process for having the community recommend new names for Stuart High School. That action was done in recognition that naming a school for Confederate general no longer reflects FCPS’s values of diversity, inclusion, and equity.

Next Saturday, Sept. 16, people who live in the Stuart attendance can vote for a new name for JEB Stuart High School, at the school, anytime between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Each household will have one chance to vote for a first, second, and third choice.

People can vote for any of the names presented at the Sept. 9 meeting – submitted on index cards – even if the person who submitted a name didn’t speak. More details on the voting procedure can be found here.

Superintendent Scott Brabrand will forward one or more names to the school on Sept. 28. The school board will discuss names on Oct. 16 and is scheduled to vote on a new name on Oct. 26.

Barbara Johns

Several people at the Sept. 9 meeting who supported renaming Stuart for Barbara Rose Johns noted that Fairfax County doesn’t have a high school named for a woman or a person of color.

When Johns was a young woman in Virginia, she organized a student walkout to protest school segregation, and her passion led to a federal lawsuit which was eventually incorporated into the Brown v. Board of Education case, resulting in school desegregation across the nation.

“That changed the course of history for the better,” said a Stuart parent at the meeting.

“Johns is truly an inspirational figure, a transformational figure” who would motivate students, said a neighborhood resident.

Another resident who supported Johns said she was impressed by the intelligence of the Stuart students who pushed for renaming the school. It was not “outside agitators” as some have claimed. 

A Stuart junior who was part of the Students for Change campaign, said “any name with ties to the Confederacy “would be inoffensive and inappropriate.”

Renaming Stuart for Johns would “affirm the humanity of all people,” said a Stuart alum, who called the current name, which honors the Confederacy “insulting and and demeaning to all of us.’

Justice Marshall

Thurgood Marshall, the attorney who argued Brown v. Board of Education and later became a Supreme Court justice, was promoted by several people. 

To counter the argument that there is already a high school named Marshall – for Gen. George Marshall – this school could be called Justice Thurgood Marshall, or just Justice High School, said a community resident.

The fact that Marshall lived in the community from 1968 to 1993 and that his widow still lives in Lake Barcroft should be an important consideration, he said.

A parent who supports both Johns or Marshall, said he was embarrassed by the name JEB Stuart. He reminded the audience that the school board picked Stuart “to thumb their nose at the Supreme Court decision on desegregation. It was an act of defiance by our racist board.”

Following the white supremacist riots in Charlottesville last month, resulting in the murder of a counter protester, “no Confederate-related name should be used,” a Stuart parent said. “Both Barbara Rose Johns and Thurgood Marshall are inspirational names that stand for peace, equality, inclusion, and justice.”

Other leaders

A Stuart graduate urged the school be named for Louis Gonzaga Mendez, “a true local hero,” who was a paratrooper in World War II and received a Distinguished Service Cross for liberating a French village. The book A Bridge to Far is based on his actions in the war. He later became a Virginia education official.

Mendez lived in Lake Barcroft, and seven of his 12 children went to Stuart. Tina Mendez told the audience her father was “an extremely humble person” who “believed in humanity, believed in the goodness of people.” A Stuart parent called Mendez “an excellent role model.”

Another historical figure proposed at the meeting was Elizabeth Keckley, a former slave and seamstress for Mary Todd Lincoln who because an activist for civil rights and women’s rights.
A member of the Stuart Class of 1966 proposed E.B. Henderson, an “unsung hero” of the civil rights movement, who fought against massive resistance and co-founded the first rural NAACP chapter, in Falls Church.

A Stuart alum proposed naming the school for President Ronald Reagan in honor of his fight against communism and in recognition that many students from all over the world came to the U.S. seeking freedom.

A parent proposed honoring Winifred Edgerton Merrill, the first woman to receive a PhD in mathematics and the founder of a girls’ school – and said that would encourage girls to pursue careers in math and science.

Another “real American hero” proposed was Katherine Johnson, an African American mathematician who faced discrimination and whose story was told in the movie “Hidden Figures.”

A parent recommended naming the school for Gen. Wesley Merritt, who served in the Union Army during the Civil War, later led a Buffalo Soldier cavalry unit, and served as the first military governor of the Philippines.

A Stuart graduate called for naming the school for Andy Anderson, a Stuart alum who joined the Army and was killed in Iraq.

A student suggested Walt Disney. Another cited Alexander Hamilton, “the only founding father who was an immigrant.”

Other names mentioned at the meeting were Grace Hopper; the computer scientist and Navy officer; Harriet Tubman of Underground Railroad fame; Henry Johnson, an African American soldier who led a Buffalo Soldier unit during the Western expansion; and John Wynn Davidson, a Union general in the Civil War.

A couple of people proposed Monahoac, for the Native American people who once lived in the area. 
A parent suggested Challenger in honor of the astronauts. Another parent proposed Invincible, from the Walt Whitman poem.

Place names

Several people said selecting a neutral name, such as Munson Hill High School, would bring the community together.

A parent suggested renaming the school Peace Valley, reflecting the school’s location on Peace Valley Lane. Fort Buffalo, the original name of the Seven Corners area, was also mentioned.

Crossroads was suggested as a way to honor the African-American Crossroads community that once flourished in the area and as “a metaphor for diversity and internationalism.”

“We overestimate the inspiration students feel from a school name. Inspiration comes from teachers,” a parent said. She said today’s heroes may not hold up in 50 years, so a location name would be preferable.


A man who graduated from Stuart in 1962 argued for keeping the name noting, “those who want to erase history will never be satisfied.” The school board resolution states retaining the name JEB Stuart cannot be done, although a variant, such as Stuart High School, could be approved.

Someone else suggested Gilbert Stuart, the pre-eminent artist who painted the portraits of six early presidents.

A compromise name proposed was “Stuart-Thomas,” honoring both the “Virginia general who ended up fighting on the wrong side of history and George Henry Thomas, who fought on the right side but was largely forgotten.”

“Stuart is not a name change. We need to change the name,” a resident said.

In objecting to the Stuart name, a parent noted that the school board minutes show the board initially wanted to name the school Munson Hill in 1956 but chose Stuart in 1958 in an “attempt to stifle the civil rights movement.”

“Any name that includes Stuart is a step backward against justice,” a Stuart alum said. It’s not a real change, and a neutral name “would not be an atonement for what we’ve had to go through.”

Here are the other names submitted on index cards but not defended in person at the meeting: Lake Barcroft, Seven Corners, Colin Kaepernick, Liberty, Ron Wilson, Ruben Dario, Barcroft, Patrick Henry, Jeremy Munga, Beyonce Knowles, Schooly McSchoolface, Barack Obama, Samuel Tucker, Dwight D. Eisenhower, First Virginians The Phoney School, George Orwell, Lewis “Chesty” Puller, Clara Barton, Ulysses S. Grant, Anne Peabody, Juliane Moore, Skyline, John Glenn, Number One, Skyview Heights, Constitution, Eleanor Roosevelt, Woodward Hunt Sr., Spirit, We Are One, John F. Kennedy, Constitution, Chad Steffey, Unity, Diffendorfer, Harambe, East County, Braden Aust, Bradley Chelsea Manning, Robert Borlaug, Skyview, Malala Yousafzai, Triggered Snowflake, and Evans and Hynes Institute for Public Integrity and Fiscal Responsibility. 


  1. Shocker...this was the liberal plan from day one. They used a made up non controversy as a means to this end.

    1. Isn't a controversy, by definition, something about which people take sides and disagree? You may not agree that the name should be changed but the fact that many, many others in the community believe it should means that it is in fact a controversy. Your statement above just reinforces that it is a controversy.

      And what you mean by "plan from day one"? That the name should be changed? Well duh.

    2. I think they should recover one of the graves or tombstones from the baseball field and what every the first remains that can be identified use that as the name of the school. Just in case many do not know they plowed under a cemetery for the ball field. John Gott a very well known Virginia Historian was part of the construction while he was in High School and always felt guilty of do such a shameful thing.

  2. Anonymous 1:03 PM, I'm sincere in asking, what was the made up non controversy? Thank you.

  3. Glad to see Schooly McSchoolface made the first cut

  4. I was opposed to the name change because I would rather see funds needed to re-name the school used for actual education. However, since this is happening, I cannot think of a better choice than Justice Thurgood Marshall. As the article notes, the first African American Supreme Court justice lived in this community and his widow still does. He had an indelible and amazing impact on this country, and if the school board really wants to right a wrong, then the opposite of Jeb Stuart here is Justice Marshall, who stood for everything good that the school board meant to defeat by naming the school after Jeb Stuart in the first place. And I don't see a need to shorten his name--that just diminishes the man in my view. I vote for Justice Thurgood Marshall High School. The school can be called Justice or Marshall or whatever colloquially, but I like the sounds of Justice Thurgood Marshall High School.

    1. I think people hoping for (Justice) Thurgood Marshall HS will be disappointed. FCPS isn't supposed to pick names that are "confusing," and it's hard to think of anything more confusing than having two Marshall High Schools in the same county.

    2. Barbara Rose Johns is a better choice. I think Thurgood Marshall has been honored enough. Airport, highways. Almost every state except SC and Alabama has at least several middle, ES and High Schools. We have a scholarship fund. Even a daycare in DC. Law school. We would just add to the many.

      If we change - make it an original. Set the standard high.

  5. My mother worked at Jeb Stuart for 30 years, and this is liberal non-sense!!! I can't believe they are erasing history like this.

    1. Nothing is being erased. The school is not a historical artifact, most people in the county couldn't even find it on a map, and no textbooks, online pages, or other documents are being re-written to conceal or deny who he was or what he did.

      This is a flimsy, misleading argument that reeks of ignorance and desperation. Stop making a fool of yourself and give it up.

      BTW: I'm an alum.

    2. I think there are a number of fine choices here. It's a nice opportunity to either honor some lesser-known heroes and leaders, the Monahoac, or the location itself.

      As a Stuart graduate who participated in the marching band there--an experience that shaped my life in wonderful ways, both small and large--I'd be more than happy to donate to support the band if it's decided that new uniforms or equipment are needed. Let's move forward.

  6. I had not heard of Louis Mendez before this meeting, but I think he'd make a fine choice. He's a great role model for students at a school with a large Hispanic enrollment, and the fact that he lived in the Lake Barcroft community and his own children attended the school is also a nod to Stuart's past.

  7. Liberal BS in our public school system again.

  8. Barbara Rose Johns is a better choice than Thurgood Marshall. It will be the first school named after her in Virginia. Set the standard high - do something original.

    If you good Thurgood Marshall you will see he is honored a lot:

    - BWI Airport
    - Roads and Highways.
    - Law Schools
    - Several ES, MS, HS in each state, with the exceptions of SC and AL.
    - Scholarship funds.
    - He has now a movie.

    - Statue in Annapolis, MD.

    We will follow the herd, if we honor Marshall. I know he lived in the area, but I bet he would be proud that we honored a courageous lady, who had a cross burned in her yard.

  9. The Fairfax County School Board benchmarks its organizational changes against what other school systems in the US are doing.

    In the vast majority of school renamings across the country, other school systems have chosen to rename schools after people, not places. Fairfax County school board members agree that names of people are much more inspirational than place names. Nearly 75% of the name nominations for Stuart HS are in honor of people, not places.

  10. Some info on the name "Manahoac Spirit Eagles": one of the proposed names.

  11. Sandy Evans offered "Stuart" in her motion as a compromise.

    Oh, and Munson Hill was never a real name for the school. Watch the July 17, 2017 School Board Work Session on YouTube. FCPS staff said schools are given geographical names in the planning stages. Then a name is selected.

    Vote for Stuart.

    1. Why will the school not be named for the name that gets the most votes on Sept 16?? Is the school board really going to decide with another of their "votes"? Previously the students, alumni, and community residents voted on several occaisions to leave the name as it is but the school board "voted" to change it anyway. Now they are preparing to "vote" again?? Same stuff, different day. I hope that whoever takes note of the name suggestion of Evans - Hynes institute for integrity and fiscal responsibility does not regard that as a compliment. It is abundantly clear that among these anarchists there is no integrity or fiscal responsibility (teacher raises are frozen, programs are cut, but we allocate substantial funds for the name change).It is good to know that others are aware.

    2. The School Board is charged by state law with the administration of the schools, and the FCPS regulations are very clear that the School Board has ultimate authority with respect to naming and renaming schools. The community vote simply informs the Superintendent's recommendations to the Board, which the Board can choose to accept or ignore. I cannot imagine a scenario where, having gone through this much effort to rename JEB Stuart HS, the Board agrees that "Stuart HS" is an acceptable name, knowing that it's a nod and a wink to "JEB Stuart" and the Confederacy.

  12. Annandale HS
    Annandale Terrace
    Bailey's Elementary
    Bailey's Upper Elementary
    Bryn Mar Park Elementary
    Bull Run ES
    Bush Hill
    Camelot ES
    Canterbury Woods
    Cardinal Forest
    Cedar Lane
    Center Ridge
    Centreville ES
    Centreville HS
    Chantilly Acadamy
    Chantilly HS
    Cherry Run ES
    Colvin Run
    Cub Run
    Cunningham Park
    Daniels Run
    Deer Park ES
    Dunn Loring Admin
    Fairfax Academy
    Fairfax HS
    Fairfax County Adult HS
    Fairfax Villa
    Falls Church ES
    Falls Church HS
    Flint Hill
    Forest Edge
    Fort Hunt
    Fox Mill
    Glen Forest
    Graham Road
    Great Falls
    Herndon ES
    Herndon MS
    Herndon HS
    Hollin Meadows ES
    Hunt Valley
    Hunters Woods
    Hybla Valley ES
    Island Creek
    Keene Mill ES
    Kings Glen Es
    Kings Park
    Lake Anne
    Lake Braddock HS
    Laurel Hill
    Lemon Road
    Little Run
    London Towne
    Lorton Center
    Lorton Station
    Mason Crest ES
    McLean HS
    Mosby Woods
    Mount Eagle ES
    Mountain View HS
    Newington Forest HS
    North Springfield Elementary
    Oak Hill
    Oak View
    Oakton ES
    Oakson HS
    Olde Creek
    Orange Hunt
    Pimmit Hills
    Pine Spring
    Quander Road School
    Ravensworth ES
    Rocky Run MS
    Rolling Valley ES
    Rose Hill
    Shreevewood ES
    Sleepy Hollow
    South County HS
    South County MS
    South Lakes HS
    Spring Hill
    Springfield Estates
    Stratford Landing
    Sunrise Valley
    Terra Centre
    Timber Lane
    Union Mill
    Vienna ES
    Virginia Hills Center
    Virginia Run
    Wakefield Forest
    Waples Mill
    West Potomac Academy
    West Potomac HS
    West Springfield ES
    West Springfield HS
    White Oaks ES
    Willow Springs
    Wilton Woods Center
    Wolftrap ES
    Woodly Hills

    Yours Truly,
    A FCPS staffer

    1. Borrowing from a friend:

      High/Secondary Schools in FCPS: 25
      High/Secondary Schools Named Directly After White Men: 7 (Edison, JEB Stuart, Lee, Madison, George Marshall, Robinson, Woodson)
      High/Secondary Schools Named After Locations Named After White Men: 4 (Fairfax, Herndon, Lake Braddock, McLean)
      High/Secondary Schools Named After Properties Owned by White Men: 3 (Chantilly, Langley, Mount Vernon)
      High/Secondary Schools Named Directly After Women, Locations Names After Women, or Properties Owned by Women: 0
      High/Secondary Schools Named Directly After POC, Locations Named After POC, or Properties Owned by POC: 0
      And you argue that renaming ONE high/secondary school out of 25 after a woman and/or person of color will lead to another renaming discussion in a few years, or a few decades, because "the pendulum is bound to swing in the other direction eventually." Seriously? The playing field in FCPS is not even close to being level, and never has been. #barbararosejohns #thurgoodmarshall #louisgmendez

    2. Hi, 12:37 here.

      If you're directing your comment to me, please know that my own comment ended up in the wrong location somehow. I was replying to Anonymous 9/13 who claimed that a place name isn't common/traditional/likely in FCPS, in a feeble effort to prove that Munson Hill was never a valid name for my alma mater. I didn't see the July 17 SB Work Session, but anyone who checks out the school and center directory on could see that schools with place names abound!

      I don't have a single doubt that slapping Stuart's name on the school after two years wasn't a middle finger to de-segregation and everyone who wasn't white, and I'd be quite pleased--joyous, even--if the school were re-named after almost any of the people mentioned in the article above (though Thurgood Marshall wouldn’t be my first choice, and Reagan wouldn't ever make my list at all.) I really, really wish that I could be granted a vote.

  13. False Choice of just “Stuart”

    Even though the Name Change proposal, mandates that we have the choice “Stuart HS” in our selection process this Saturday, it is a false choice that neither satisfies the need for change, nor represents what the school was in the past. The school has in fact has been transforming for years. The Confederate flag has been removed from the Gym floor. When most people, including students and faculty discuss the school, they generally use the word “Stuart”. In a practical way, it is already named “Stuart”.

    If one votes for “Stuart HS”. What will its name be? It is now a name unfettered by association of place or person. It drifts in the mind and does it become malleable to whatever you think? There is a series called “What is in a name?” that FCPS produces for each school. What will be in this video now? Will it be Gilbert Stuart, James Patrick Stuart, the Stuart Kings of England?

    If you close your eyes and pretend that “Stuart” is in fact “J.E.B Stuart”, pretend that everything will be the same. But it is not – the letters on the building will change, the sign by the door. The letterhead and other things will change. It will further chip away at the image that you had before. It will not still not satisfy.

    It is a time for a fresh start, instead of compromise. In a few years, the emotions will subside. New memories will be formed. Old memories will not be forgotten, they live with us. Picking something other than “Stuart” will start the journey. Like all journeys it will take time.

    1. Reference to a General Hospital star!

  14. Liberals rule the public school system now. Kinda glad my kids don't attend anymore.

    1. And we'll be glad when your twilight of hateful regressiveness is finally over.

    2. STUART!!