New high school to get name next month First two proposals ran into opposition

March 06, 1997|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel's school board has twisted itself into knots over what seems to be a simple thing: naming the new high school for troubled youths.

First, the temporary name -- Arundel Academy -- ran into trouble because it was too close to the name of a defunct semiprivate school. Then the recommended permanent name -- Crownsville High School -- ran into trouble because it was too close to that of the neighboring mental hospital, once a segregated institution.

More recently, some have suggested naming the school for a prominent county resident who has died -- former State Sen. John A. Cade, who was an advocate for education, maybe. Or Aris T. Allen, a respected physician, leader in desegregation and Anne Arundel's first black state senator. Or Sarah V. Jones, a black teacher who became supervisor of elementary education in 1928.

Some black residents said in letters to board members that they did not want the school named for an African-American, fearing that that would stigmatize it as one for disruptive black children, member Carlesa R. Finney of Glen Burnie said at a school board meeting yesterday. Others want the school named for an African-American as a role model for minority students, she said.

Carrying a sign that read "What's in a name," retired teacher Hannah Finney, Carlesa Finney's mother, suggested the names of several black educators and leaders.

The board offered to list all the suggestions this month and select a new name next month.

Members agreed with Norman Brailey, director of the Stanton Community Center, who, as he delivered a petition with the signatures of 24 opponents to the Crownsville name, told the board that Crownsville "has had a name that meant mentally deranged persons."

The students who recommended the name did not see it that way, said Principal Joan Valentine. They picked a name that denoted the community they are in.

The school system allows students to recommend names for their school, but the board is not required to accept them. A school may be named for a person only if the person has been dead for at least three years, although the board has made exceptions.

Some residents liked the idea of a name that denotes location, but board member Michael J. McNelly noted that the school might not always be in Crownsville.

Pub Date: 3/06/97

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