Name debate over new north Huntsville school campus - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Name debate over new north Huntsville school campus

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HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

What's in a name? Well, it's apparently a big deal when it comes to naming new schools in Huntsville. Not everyone's on board with new names for new schools planned for the city.

J.O. Johnson High School, opened in 1972 and school leaders said it's time to put the building and the name in the past.

They want to replace it with a $65 million construction project for a brand new, state of the art school. However, an online petition is hoping the name Johnson sticks with the new school.

More than a thousand people have signed the petition created by the Johnson Alumni Association. The plan is to have students move to the new north Huntsville school off Pulaski Pike near Winchester Road.

The campus will also have a new junior high on it where Davis Hills and Ed White Middle Schools will merge.

School leaders said it's time to give Johnson High a new beginning especially after it's carrying a label of a "failing school." Enrollment also continues to decline with parents opting to transfer their students. It's evident because there are only 500 students in a school built for two thousand.

"That tells us a lot right there, half the people in the community have chosen to do something else with their child, to go somewhere else to seek education at some other place. we want to provide an education in every community in our city, this is a major investment of $65 million dollars, a once in a lifetime investment. so we've got to get it right and part of that is picking the right name," said Superintendent Dr. Casey Wardynski.

A committee is now reviewing new names for the school and sticking with a rocket city theme. They've narrowed it down to either naming the school after the first African-American woman to fly into space, Dr. Mae Jemison or Astronaut, Ronald McNair who died tragically in the Challenger explosion.

The schools are set to open fall of 2016.

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