|The scene outside Stuart High School as people showed up to vote for a new name.|
The option for retaining the Stuart name for JEB Stuart High School got the most points in a voting exercise conducted by Fairfax County Public Schools Sept. 16.
“Stuart/Stuart Raiders” got a total of 917 points, while Justice Thurgood Marshall, Justice, or a variant got 783 points and Barbara Rose Johns got 737 points, FCPS announced.
People could select a first, second, and third choice. First choice votes were worth 3 points, second choice 2 points, and third choice 1 point.
Below the top three vote getters, other popular names were Peace Valley with 494 points, Louis G. Mendez Jr. with 328 points, Munson Hill with 227, and Barcroft/Lake Barcroft with 205.
The school board passed a resolution in July to initiate the name change process following requests from students and alumni unhappy about having a school named for a Confederate general. As a compromise to appease those who wanted to keep the Stuart name, the board resolution called for Stuart High School to be considered as a new name.
When the school board initiated the name change process, it directed FCPS Superintendent Scott Brabrand to submit a recommendation to the school board on Sept. 28 consisting of one or more of the most popular choices selected by the community. That recommendation will be announced to the public on Sept. 21.
The school board will consider the superintendent’s recommendation at its work session on Oct. 16 and will vote on Oct. 26.
Turnout appeared to be high during the voting, with a steady stream of people dropping by the school all day. Advocates for Marshall, Johns, and Mendez set up display tables with handouts about their preferred choice.
Justice Thurgood Marshall, who lived in Lake Barcroft, argued the landmark school desegregation case, Brown v. Board of Education, before the Supreme Court and later served as a Supreme Court justice.
Barbara Rose Johns was an advocate for school integration in Virginia, and her lawsuit was eventually incorporated into the Brown ruling. Several people who voted for her noted that Fairfax County doesn’t have any high schools named for a woman or person of color.
Lisa McQuail, a Stuart alum who posted the first online petition, in June 2015, urging the school board to drop the Stuart name, was at Stuart urging people to select Johns, Marshall, and Mendez. All three are Virginians and all “embody the really complex American values we can all agree on,” she said.
Mendez was a World War II hero who became an education official. His daughter, Tina Mendez was at Stuart on Saturday, as was Jasmine Sheriff, who currently lives in the Lake Barcroft house that the Mendez family lived in on Stonybrae Lane from 1954 to 2012. “I still have an emotional connection to that house,” said Tina, who attended Stuart with six of her 11 siblings.
Several people were at the school promoting Andy Anderson, of the Stuart class of 2001, who served in the Army and was killed in Iraq. “It would be such an honor to have the school named for him,” said Andy’s mother, Xiomara Anderson, who noted that her son played on the Stuart football and basketball teams. Anderson got 164 points.
“Schooly McSchoolface” got 44 points, beating such historical figures as Alexander Hamilton, John F. Kennedy, John Glenn, Ronald Reagan, and Walt Disney. The complete list of names and vote totals are listed here.