Central Junior High School looks to go old school when it becomes a middle school this summer.
A committee of parents, staffers, students and community members is recommending that the building at 1400 Mass. combine Central with its original name, Liberty Memorial, to form a new name, one expected to be designated July 1.
Options being recommended to the Lawrence school board for consideration:
• Central Liberty Middle School.
• Liberty Central Middle School
• Central Middle School, Liberty Memorial Building.
“There could be some way to cleverly combine the two,” said Anna Stubblefield, Central’s principal.
The committee’s recommendation comes as naming studies are nearly complete for the Lawrence school district’s junior highs, which are reconfiguring into middle schools for the 2011-12 academic year. For the first time, the schools will have sixth-graders and no longer will have ninth-graders.
Committees and administrators at South and Southwest junior highs already have concluded that the names basically should stay the same: South Middle School and Southwest Middle School. West Junior High’s committee still hasn’t decided, although parents, boosters and staffers already have “resoundingly” indicated support for retaining the “West” name, Principal Myron Melton said.
“We’ll see if the students agree,” Melton said. “If I talk to students around the building, they favor keeping the name. But we’ll give them all a chance to weigh in.”
The naming discussions started Jan. 13, as the Lawrence school board decided — on a 4-3 vote — to pursue changing the names of all four schools. The recommendation from administrators simply had been to change “junior high” to “middle” in each name, and call it good.
But some board members suggested instead that students, staffers and supporters could come up with more creative names, ones that would help mark the fresh start of reconfiguring the junior highs into middle schools.
This week, Central’s naming committee chose to turn back time. The school’s current home opened in 1923 as Liberty Memorial High School, a monument to high school graduates and others from Lawrence who had died in World War I.
Recent support for bringing back the name included a letter from members of the American Legion. A survey of teachers and other school staffers drew 50 responses, with eight saying they would favor using “Liberty” or “Liberty Memorial” in some manner, Stubblefield said; the others said they would prefer to stick simply with “Central.”
Central’s naming committee included Vanessa Sanburn, one of four school board members who had voted Jan. 13 to seek new names for the junior highs.
Rick Doll, district superintendent, said that he planned to prepare name recommendations for consideration by the board, likely sometime around spring break.