HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — Late Henrico Police Officer Neil Griffin’s family and friends were disappointed last month when the Henrico School Board chose the name Quioccasin Middle to replace the name Byrd Middle in western Henrico.
Griffin’s family felt renaming the school after Neil — the school’s former resource officer who died after a battle with cancer weeks before the school vote — would have been an appropriate honor.
That disappointment, however, was supplanted by excitement and elation Sunday.
That was when the Griffin family learned the middle school chose to honor Neil in the form of a school mascot.
Whereas Byrd Middle School’s mascot was the Senators, Quioccasin Middle School’s mascot will be the Griffins.
The Griffin is a mythological creature with the head and wings of an eagle and legs, body, and tail of a lion.
“We will never be able to properly express our gratitude to the faculty, students, parents and community members who supported honoring Neil’s legacy in this way,” the Griffin family said in a statement. “Neil was a humble servant to his Community; compassionate, dedicated and driven to protect and serve the students and community under his charge. That dedication was part of his battle against cancer and the then ‘Byrd Family’ gave him strength to continue moving forward when others may have given in.”
The family hopes Officer Griffin’s story is passed down as new Griffins enroll at Quioccasin Middle.
“We’ve heard several stories from students about how Officer Griffin was fun, always there for them, and never gave up on them. That was Neil; he was the first to make a joke, the first to lend a helping hand and the last to give up on a challenge,” the family said. “We hope that Neil’s legacies of honor, integrity, hard work and joy for life (to name a few) become hardwired into the culture of Quioccasin Middle School.”
Current and rising students voted on the nickname. Griffins earned more than 50 percent of the final vote.
“The vote shows how important Officer Griffin was to our school community,” principal Cheri Guempel said. “This vote is about unity and moving forward.”