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New names for Newport News schools introduced to students

Last year, the school board voted to change the names because they were associated with slavery, the Civil War and segregation.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — A new start to the school year means new names for some Newport News schools.

Last year, the school board voted to change the names because they were associated with slavery, the U.S. Civil War, and segregation.

Some of the new signs are already in place and ready for students to see when they return to class.

“The work has really been about making sure that all of our stakeholders and students see themselves when they think about their schools and school names," said Newport News Public Schools Chief of Staff Rashard Wright. 

Wright said after a year of research and public input, diversity and inclusion are present in city schools.

“I think we all remember our schools and the schools we attended and the names. So again, hopefully, this makes memories for our students," said Wright.

Some names were chosen based on location.

Nelson Elementary is now Knollwood Meadows Elementary School. Epes Elementary is now Stoney Run Elementary.

“They represent the community. They represent some of the older neighborhoods in the area," said Wright. 

Other names were picked to honor influential people from Newport News.

Dozier Middle is now Ella Fitzgerald Middle School and Lee Hall Elementary is now Katherine G. Johnson Elementary School.

“Katherine Johnson obviously did amazing work with NASA and mathematics and also the impact with space travel and Ella Fitzgerald a very popular musician," said Wright. 

Wright said new names are coming to other schools soon.

“We plan to move into the research with tier two and finalize that in the next month or so," said Wright. 

Wright explained that some schools are updating their school logos and websites. After the school year starts, each school will have a ceremony to celebrate their new names.

“But the key is to ensure all of our students in Newport News have a great learning experience," said Wright. 

The three Newport News Public Schools which are part of tier two renaming include Richneck Elementary School, Denbigh High School and Denbigh Early Childhood Center.

Editor's note: The video above is on file from July 13, 2021.

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