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Protesters come together to speak out against school name changes

Sign at protest against name changes in Shenandoah County
Sign at protest against name changes in Shenandoah County(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 11, 2020 at 7:43 PM EDT
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SHENANDOAH COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - Protesters joined together outside of Mount Jackson’s town hall in Shenandoah County on Saturday.

They spoke out against the school board’s recent decision to change the names of two schools in the area, Stonewall Jackson High School and Ashby-Lee Elementary School.

Some people there today, like Renee Hawkins, believe the public’s opinion was not taken into consideration.

“There were two petitions, one for one against, the petition for actually had about 2,000 names. The petition against had almost 4,000. So those were not taken into consideration either,” Hawkins said.

“When there is 40,000 people and only five people made our decision, that’s what bothers us the most,” another protester said.

Kristen Gochenour said now is not the time to be thinking about renaming the schools.

“I feel like right now our priorities need- really be focused on our children and getting them back in school because the future is what we’re supposed to be building for our kids,” Gochenour said.

“It’s just simply a part of history. I’m not gonna teach hate. I’m not gonna condone hate. I’m not gonna condone violence, I don’t condone racism. It’s just history. It is what it is,” Gochenour said.

And some say this is bigger than just a name change.

“It’s way bigger than the names, it’s being told. We are being told ‘you have to do this’, ‘you have to do that’ and that’s not who we are,” one protester said.

Those who came out today are hoping to get their voices heard.

Copyright 2020 WHSV. All rights reserved.

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