Voices, heat rise during school naming vote - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Voices, heat rise during school naming vote

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Many pack into the Huntsville School Board meeting on Thursday Many pack into the Huntsville School Board meeting on Thursday
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

In the face of angry objections from J.O. Johnson High School graduates, Huntsville's city school board Thursday night approved names for four soon-to-be-built new city schools, without naming one of them Johnson.

District 1's Johnson High School and Butler High will be replaced by a new north high school to be built near Pulaski Pike. Johnson alums called for the new school to take the Johnson name, just as the new high school thats planned for south Huntsville will take the name Grissom from Grissom High School.

"We want to make sure that we keep the name so that we can show progress and not get everything swept under the rug," said Johnson alumna Laketta Montague at a crowded meeting of the school board.

"I live in the community. Nobody had a town hall with me. Nobody told me anything about the name change, and I feel like we were purposely left out," said Johnson alumna Michelle Watkins.

District 1 school board member Laurie McCaulley, who has been the target of much of the anger over the school names. The board had to consider not just the community now served by Johnson, but also that now served by Butler.  "It tears me apart too, because I have to represent both communities", said McCaulley. "And I only have room for one high school. So I have to do the best I can do for both communities. They have to come together as one and everyone has to feel at home there."

The board voted on names for four schools, which members said had been chosen by committees representative of their communities.

Of the changes to be made are a new middle school to be named after astronaut Ronald McNair, a new elementary school to be named after Sonny Hereford and his son, who first desegregated Huntsville schools in 1963, a new Grissom High School, and the new north high school, to be named after astronaut Mae Jemison, instead of Johnson or Butler.

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