Goodbye Stonewall Jackson, hello Unity Braxton and Unity Reed.
During its June 29 meeting, the Prince William County School Board voted to rename Stonewall Jackson Senior High School to Unity Reed High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School to Unity Braxton Middle School. These names were chosen out of over 775 submissions from community residents.
Special preference was given to the names of individuals ‘who have made significant contributions to the field of education, especially within Prince William County,’ according to a presentation from the schools’ naming committees. The naming committee for the former Stonewall Jackson Senior High School consisted of school board Chairman Babur Lateef, Brentsville District Member Adele Jackson, Gainesville District Member Jennifer T. Wall, and Coles District Member Lisa Zargarpur, while the committee for the former Stonewall Middle School consisted of Chairman Lateef, Brentsville District Member Jackson, and Gainesville District Member Wall.
“Arthur Reed was a favorite among the community for the renaming of the school and the school board seeks to recognize the voices and opinions of current and former students of the high school. Arthur Reed reflects a lifelong legacy and dedication to Prince William County, representing leadership, respect, pride, and perseverance,” said Brentesville District member Adele Jackson.
The former Stonewall Jackson High School was renamed after Arthur Reed, a security assistant at Stonewall Jackson High School for a number of years, who was nicknamed the ‘godfather’ of the school. The former Stonewall Jackson Middle School, on the other hand, was renamed after Celestine and Carol Braxton, an African-American teacher who taught in Virginia during racial segregation and a master gunnery sergeant in the Marine Corps respectively.
The names Reed and Braxton are preceded by unity, another popular suggestion for the new names of the schools, as it ‘reminds the students to uplift, inspire, and support each other in their commitment to excellence,’ according to Gainsville District Member Wall.
Aside from naming the schools, the school board also named the auditorium of what is now Unity Braxton Middle School after the school’s newly retired principal, John G. Miller.
While the naming process is over, school board members assured their work was far from done.
“Don’t think these name changes are just check a box and done. We’re working,” said Coles District Member Zargapur.
“Many citizens commented and said ‘Don’t just change the rename the school. We as a board have committed to improving student performance,” said Chariman Babur Lateef.
The now Unity Reed High School has the third-lowest graduation rate in the county and many infrastructure problems, according to student representative to the school board Ben Kim.
“What would truly benefit our students would be improvements to our school such as new bathrooms, natural lighting, and locker rooms,” tweeted student representative Kim.