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Archive for Tuesday, March 27, 1990

BOARD HOLDS OFF NAME CHANGE FOR CENTRAL

March 27, 1990

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Lawrence School Board members seemed generally receptive Monday night to the idea of changing the name of Central Junior High School, but few seemed willing to change the name twice.

In response to a recent request, the board considered changing Central's name to Liberty Memorial, after the Liberty Memorial High School that once was housed in what is now Central.

However, because the district's junior highs would become middle schools with the construction of a proposed second high school, some board members said they wanted to hold off on the change to avoid renaming the school twice.

"I think it's a great idea, and as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't matter when the name is changed," said board member Maggie Carttar. "But it would not be monetarily advisable to do it now because you'd have to double-change it."

ALTHOUGH the board took no action on the matter, School Board President Mary Lou Wright told those requesting the change that "it was a good time for you to present this to us so that it's on people's minds."

Liberty Memorial High School, which opened in 1923, was named in memory of the 19 Lawrence high school alumni who died in World War I. And among those requesting the name change Monday night were the relatives of those to whom Liberty Memorial had been dedicated.

Martha Parker, whose uncle, Cpl. Everett Demeritt, was killed in the war, spoke in favor of the change. And Milton Beach, whose father, Lt. Mark Beach, was killed in the war, also supported restoring the building's original name.

Another proponent of the change was Raymond A. Schwegler Jr., whose father spoke at the 1923 dedication of Liberty Memorial High School as dean of Kansas University's school of education.

BUT PROBABLY the most moving plea came from Charles Stough, member of the Douglas County Historical Society and former speaker of the state House of Representatives.

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow, between the crosses, row on row," said Stough, reciting verse by poet John McCrae. "We shall not sleep, though poppies grow, in Flanders fields."

"We might not rest either if we fail to rededicate Liberty Memorial as the name of the school," said Stough.

Wint Winter Sr., a graduate of Liberty Memorial who was instrumental in getting the board to consider the name change, said the people who financed Liberty Memorial probably did so with the belief that it would be a memorial in perpetuity.

BUT AFTER the present high school at 19th and Louisiana streets was completed in 1954, Liberty Memorial became Lawrence Junior High School. And when West Junior High School was completed in 1960, LJHS was renamed Central Junior High School to avoid confusion.

Ms. Wright said that despite the fact that the building no longer had its original name, "You can't go into the building without being reminded that it's a war memorial."

A large insciption in honor of the war dead is above the stage in the Central Junior High auditorium, and the names of the Lawrence high school alumni killed in the war are displayed in the auditorium.

Also, insignia representing the different infantry divisions of those who died in the war can be found on stained glass windows at the school.

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