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Disputes arise in Hanover over school name changes: 'Many people expressed their frustration'

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Posted at 11:54 PM, Sep 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 00:05:32-04

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- The Hanover Community is split after a School Renaming Committee shared its renaming recommendations for the schools formerly known as Lee-Davis High School and Stonewall Jackson Middle School with the Hanover School Board.

The committee, made up of community members, parents, and students, selected Twin Rivers for the high school and Mechanicsville for the middle school after receiving input from Hanover community members.

Dr. Carol Cash, a member of the School Renaming Committee, said that the two names paid homage to the geographic locations of the schools.

"The high school recommendation is Twin Rivers high school. The rationals for it is it pays homage to the Pamunkey and Chickahominy rivers which provide the natural boundaries within the school community," Cash said.

But some School Board members don't agree on the names and said that community ideas are being ignored.

"That choice was not in alignment with what we saw as the current tradition or situation in our country where every school has its own unique name," Board member Norman Sulser said. "Citizens said we want Mechanicsville High School and the committee ignored them. Many people expressed their frustration during public comment—believing their voices were being ignored."

"I've lived here my whole life. I've never once heard the terms Twin Rivers," senior-year student Summer Miller said.

Miller argued that the renaming process is slowing down college scholarship opportunities.

"When you click your application, there's no high school for us to apply to. And we're not applicable for any of those scholarships or grants or anything," Miller said.

The board ultimately decided not to rename the high school Twin Rivers and to table the vote.

In the meantime, Miller and others are just hoping a name is chosen soon.

"The fact that they've had since mid-August to do this and they can't make a decision is quite obnoxious," Miller said.

The Board said they will likely take a vote on a name in an October meeting and will be reaching out to the public for more input moving forward.