- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 14, 2004

STAFFORD, Va. — The Stafford County School Board last night voted to name the county’s new high school after the road it faces instead of in honor of former President Ronald Reagan.

The board’s 5-2 vote came minutes after about a dozen county residents asked the members to name the new school Concord High School for the old Concord School that from 1939 to 1952 educated black children.

The seven-member board had been weighing whether to name the school Ronald Reagan High School or Mountain View High School, a name that was recommended by a committee of school and county officials.

The school, which is scheduled to open next fall, is on Mountain View and Choptank roads.

Board member Dana Reinboldt said last night that she received e-mail saying the school would get national attention if it were named after Mr. Reagan.

But, Miss Reinboldt disagreed. “It is not a national issue. It is a local issue,” she said.

County School Board Vice Chairman Robert S. Belman, who had supported naming the new school in honor of the 40th president, tried in separate motions to get the board to name it Concord or after Mr. Reagan,but no one supported him.

Minutes earlier, several Stafford residents asked the School Board to consider naming the school after the old segregated school because they said an integrated new Concord High School would recognize that Stafford had come a long way since segregation.

“It will help unite this community,” one resident said.

The name Concord also would have complied with the guidelines enacted by the School Board last October because it is the name of a historical area of the county close to the new high school.

Resident Patricia Joshi said the Mountain View name “lacks thought and imagination,” particularly since no mountains are visible from the school. “A name is a source of pride,” she said, noting support for the Concord name.

Her daughter, Mia, who is a freshman at Colonial Forge High School, gave the board a petition containing 134 signatures in support of the Concord name.

Before the meeting, Mr. Belman predicted that the board would reject the Reagan name.

Mr. Belman said he wanted the school to be named after Mr. Reagan because he considers the former president “a great statesman.”

“We should honor people who have been great role models for children,” he said.

People in favor of the Reagan name are not acting for political motives, he said.

However, Mr. Belman’s sentiment was not shared by most on the nonpartisan board.

The naming guidelines also say schools can be named after a Stafford County resident of historical significance. Officials believe Mr. Reagan, who died June 5, did not have ties to Stafford County.

Some residents had said naming the school after Mountain View Road hurts the community because several children were killed in a car accident on the road last year.

“It’s become quite emotional for those families and the friends of those children — that’s the road those children were killed on,” Mr. Belman said. “We’ve heard some very compelling reasons to not name it Mountain View.”

Mr. Belman recommended last night that the board refer the decision to the community. The board rejected the idea.

“Our schools are owned by our citizens and they are paid for by everybody,” he said. “We ought to give them the chance to weigh in.”

If the School Board had named the school after Mr. Reagan, it would have been the first school in Virginia and the fourth in the nation to take the name of the Republican president.

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