HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Educators, influencers and inspirational figures highlight the list of names Henrico County Public Schools has received as suggestions to rename Harry F. Byrd Middle School in the West End.
The Henrico School Board asked the public to suggest names after a grassroots effort convinced board members having a school named after Senator Byrd, a man who supported school segregation in the 1950 and 60s, was not appropriate.
Henrico Schools released a list Wednesday of the suggested names [scroll down to see all 17 pages].
While the new name will be determined by board members, the list indicated how many times each name was suggested.
The most suggested names so far are:
Alysia C. Burton (1,626 times)
"Alysia Burton attended Byrd from 1989-1992, but tragically lost her life on September 11, 2001," a Change.org petition said about the former Byrd student. "Those of us who knew Alysia can still vividly remember her contagious laughter, compassion for others, and tireless love of life."
Neil G. Griffin (805 times)
Henrico Police Officer Neil Griffin, who served a school resource officer at Byrd Middle School, passed away in March after a battle with cancer.
"Officer Griffin was a role model for his students and colleagues; a dedicated, hard worker; and a friend to everyone he met," a Henrico Police spokesman said after Griffin's death.
The Vandervall family (594 times)
The Vanderall family owned the land where the school was built.
"The Vandervall family decided to approach the Henrico School Board about renaming Byrd School, Vandervall, to restore the history that was wiped out," the Reinstate Vandervall School NOW Facebook page indicated. "Vandervall stands for engagement of a diverse learning environment and community. Vandervall is Henrico's history reaching out to Henrico's future."
Lonnie E. Gailes (292 times)
"Dr. Lonnie E. Gailes was the first principal of Byrd Middle School and served from 1971-1984. His career was as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in several Henrico County Schools," his Change.org petition stated. "He was honored because he was also a true advocate of the students."
Bill Bosher (113 times)
Dr. Bill Bosher, who served as Henrico County Schools superintendent from 1981-1994, passed away in 2014. He taught English at Tucker High School and served as principal at Highland Springs High School before he was hired as superintendent.
"Dr. Bosher devoted his professional life to the education of young people across Virginia. He was a teacher, principal, school superintendent and college professor. He was an elder for many years at Fairmount Christian Church and served on numerous corporate, nonprofit and government boards. Above all other things, Dr. Bosher was a devoted son, husband, brother, father, grandfather and servant of God," his obituary read.
Other suggestions were to rename the school after a geographic location:
West Henrico Middle -- stay away from people's names
Quioccasin Road Middle -- native American word means "beautiful place". Road named after historically black church, Quioccasin Baptist
Gayton Crossing Middle -- non-controversial; local
Stony Run Middle -- closest stream to school; brings awareness of the natural elements in area
ES 34 -- stop naming public buildings after people
Public Middle School #1 -- to solve school names now & in the future
School #1 -- this can't offend anyone
Other famous people:
Big Bird Middle -- would be tip of hat to PBS; cost saving for signage
Einstein Middle -- after an achiever in science, math or art
Henry L. Marsh Middle -- to minimize costs, this would allow mascot to stay "Senators"
Nancy D. Reagan Middle
Click through the photo gallery below to see 17 pages worth of suggestions.