ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- Hundreds of people are trying to change the name of a local secondary school to honor the principal who died last month. The student behind the effort, is not giving up her fight, despite one major roadblock.
Diana Haemer, 16, already has more than 500 signatures on her Change.org petition to change the name of Hayfield Secondary School to honor Principal David Tremaine, who died on June 16, the day before graduation.
She wants the school's name to be "Hayfield Tremaine Secondary School."
At forty-nine-years old, Dave Tremaine died after a three year struggle with colon cancer. He joined Hayfield in 2010 and made a lasting impact on the community, even rival Edison High School painted its rock Hayfield orange after Tremaine's death.
His wife Robyn writes a blog called "Embracing the rollercoaster" which has dealt with her husband's illness, his death and the aftermath.
Remarkably, the Tremaine family was able to look beyond its own grief to comfort the large family of Hayfield that was also grieving. Dave's brother came to the graduation ceremony, spoke and shook every graduating senior's hand, just like the principal would have done. School Board member Tammy Kaufax said Tremaine brought a level of energy and spirit to the school that seemed to revive it. She said he told people that being principal of Hayfield was his "dream job."
Diana Haemer said that was obvious. "He was always in the hallways giving hi-fives to people and talking to people. It was just great to be around him because he was always to energetic and he really, really loved his job," she said. Diana also said Tremaine brought back the use of the school's fight song, though she declined to sing it for WUSA9.
Diana is a competitive ice skater and Principal Tremaine knew that. He made it his job to know his students. "He always asked me how skating was going, especially around Olympics time," said Haemer.
Diana's mother Leslie Haemer thinks the name change is a good idea. She says Tremaine worked up until the end and was a hero to many. "In living his life, he was an example of a profile in courage because I have never seen such grace under pressure," said Leslie Haemer.
However, Fairfax County Public Schools does not change its school names and allows only parts of schools to be named after people. Hayfield's stadium and auditorium are already named after people. The Spirit Store is an option, but Haemer doesn't think that's good enough.
Still, Diana Haemer says she'll keeping pushing the idea and trying to get more signatures. The School Board would have to take up the idea and decide whether to consider the name change.
Written by Peggy Fox