The Fall Church City School Board voted to rename George Mason High School to Meridian High School and Thomas Jefferson Elementary to its original name, Oak Street Elementary, at its meeting on April 27th.
Meridian High School gained favor with most of the board as Falls Church City is on the original 1791 meridian delineating the line between Washington, DC, and Virginia and recognizes the school’s long history of educating global citizens through the International Baccalaureate Programme.
The Board unanimously selected Oak Street Elementary because it is the school’s original name, evokes a sense of place, and recognizes how trees are essential natural elements of Falls Church.
The new names will be effective July 1, 2021
“The Board can’t thank the Falls Church Community enough,” said Board Chair Shannon Litton. “This is a passionate community with a lot of thoughts and ideas. It has been an emotional experience. We received hundreds of comments and suggestions, and we appreciate each and everyone.”
The decision follows a 10-month, two-stage deliberation and decision-making process that began on June 30, 2020. The first stage was a 6-month thoughtful reconsideration of the schools' names based on the division's policies on equity and inclusion. The two schools honor Founding Fathers who also owned enslaved people. The Board solicited and received public comment and other relevant information to guide the Board’s decision about changing either school’s name.
On December 8, 2020, the School Board voted unanimously to change both names and designated Superintendent Peter Noonan to form two advisory study committees to recommend five (5) names for each school. The committees included a diverse group of 46 FCCPS Community members; staff, alumni, citizens, and students, which made up 20% of the total membership. Their deliberations stretched 13 public meetings over three months, including an interim and final presentation to the School Board.
Throughout the process, the Board remained open to input from the public on the decisions.
An archive of all Renaming Committee Agendas, Meeting Notes, and videos are available on the FCCPS website at https://www.fccps.org/page/school-renaming.