A months-long debate over what to name Loudoun County’s next middle school is finally settled.
In a split vote Tuesday the School Board agreed to call it Brambleton Middle School.
The board initially voted last June to name the school after former Virginia House of Delegates Speaker John F. Ryan, following the recommendation of a naming committee. It later reversed its decision after community members brought to light that Ryan might have ushered in racial segregation laws. Their alternate choice, naming the school after Mathias Giordano, a Leesburg student who died of bone cancer in December 2014, was also rejected. The board had concerns about honoring one student but leaving out so many others who have died young.
The naming committee was asked to go back to the drawing board, and seven months later, its members put forward Brambleton Middle School as its final recommendation.
And the committee’s suggestion was almost rejected again.
Ahead of the board’s vote Tuesday, School Board member Joy Maloney (Broad Run) put forward the name Hope Middle School for consideration. She said it captures the intent of the committee when it suggested naming the school in honor of Mathias.
“I feel like changing it to Hope Middle School really encompasses what the recommendation of the naming committee was about,” she said. Quoting from a letter written by Sherri Carmical in support of the name, she said, “Hope is who we are as kids, as parents, as people. … It is hope that guides us.”
She noted that a petition in support of Hope Middle School had close to 400 signatures, including signatures of the mothers of Mathias, Gavin Rupp and Gabriella Miller, all of whom lost their lives to pediatric cancer.
Maloney was joined by three other members in support of naming the school Hope, but the motion was one vote shy of passing.
Chairman Eric Hornberger (Ashburn), Jeff Morse (Dulles) and Jill Turgeon (Blue Ridge), who were among those who opposed the motion, said they wanted to honor the committee’s wishes.
Morse and other board members said they would like to one day see a school called Hope, but not this one. “The process is important here,” he said. “I don’t want to encourage the community to come forward with their ideas and then have the board pick the name at the last minute.”
The $49.34 million middle school will open in Brambleton to students in August 2017.