Loudoun’s School Board is considering naming the future site of the county’s alternative school The North Star, after the newspaper published by abolitionist Frederick Douglass.
The name is the top recommendation of a board-appointed naming committee made up of teachers, students and community members. The group was tasked with coming up with and vetting potential names for the alternative education center that will be built at 715 Childrens Center Road in Leesburg, which was the site for C.S. Monroe Technology Center. The technology center has moved into the new Academies of Loudoun, along Sycolin Road south of Leesburg. The building that housed those programs will be demolished this year and, on the same site, a facility will be built to house the alternative education programs now offered at Douglass School. Programs that will be moved from Douglass School, on East Market Street, to the Childrens Center Road campus include secondary school alternative education classes, an adult education program with day and night classes, and the General Educational Development (GED) test preparation program. The School Board has agreed to keep the name Douglass School with the 1941 building on East Market Street because of its historical significance.
In a report to the School Board, the naming committee states that the name of The North Star newspaper “paid homage to the fact that escaping slaves used the North Star in the night sky to guide them to freedom.” Members of the naming committee said the name has historic and scientific significance “including its symbolism of the north compass, as well as the programs to be offered to future students which will enable them to ‘find their way’ as well as allowing students to ‘find a path for success.’”
As its first alternate name, the committee is recommending Hope Academy—a name that was suggested by two Douglass School students appointed to the committee. “We believe that it will be a place of hope for students who need it,” they stated.
The committee’s second alternate is The Monarch School, a name suggested by a former Douglass School student. She explained that the monarch butterfly’s migration path travels through the area and the name reflects how students who are in alternative education are constantly adapting to their changing environments, similarly to butterflies.
The School Board is scheduled to vote on the name at its Feb. 12 meeting. The new school building is expected to be built and ready for students by August 2021.