At J.E.B. Stuart's homecoming game, hundreds of hoodies and t-shirts with #NewStu will fill the bleachers and field. The hashtag name was offered on spirit wear last month after the community voted for a new school name on September 16. The choice to drop the J.E.B. and keeping just "Stuart" was the single favorite.
"Perhaps the community did get ahead of itself," said parent Tara Rethore.
School board members, including chair Jane Strauss, had said they would possibly support the compromise of "Stuart High School." However, at the October 16 school board work session, Strauss and others changed their minds and said they would not support any rendition of the name Stuart.
Several students and a teacher told WUSA9 on Friday that they were surprised the new name was not going to be "Stuart."
"The community voice has been so lost and trampled, I don't know what they're going to do," said Rethore.
However, second and third top choices from the community were Justice Thurgood Marshall and Barbara Rose Johns.
At the October 16th meeting, board members appeared to be moving toward naming the school after Justice Thurgood Marshall, who lived in area, but sent his kids to private school. The main problem with the name Marshall is the confusion that could result, since Fairfax County already has a Marshall High School. George C. Marshall High School is also in Falls Church and only five miles from J.E.B. Stuart High School. Board members said it would be called Justice High School.
Rethore said students don't like the Johns name because of the initials "B-J." And choosing Marshall would set the school up for more of an identity crisis.
"The College Board uses a person's last name to list the school. College recruiters already have a hard time finding us. How do you get recognized? How to you build an identity with that?" said Rethore.
From the top names chosen by the community, Superintendent Scott Brabrand has provided the school board these five possible choices:
- Justice Thurgood Marshall or a variant
- Barbara Johns or a variant
- Peace Valley
- Col. Mendez or a variant
Supporters of keeping the Stuart name are suing the school board, accusing the board of not following its own regulations and procedures in changing the name. They say the board never found or identified a “compelling need" nor “community support."
On the other side, supporters who want to change the name say it's "inappropriate" to have a school named after a Confederate general who "took up arms against our country" and who fought to keep in place a system that upheld and continued the institution of slavery.