After $20K donation, 3 schools change Confederate names

Photo credit: WRIC
Photo credit: WRIC(WHSV)
Published: Jul. 11, 2018 at 5:03 PM EDT
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New signs are up at three central Virginia elementary schools formerly named for Confederate leaders.

The signage outside the Petersburg schools changed Tuesday, completing the transition to the new monikers.

The school names A.P. Hill, Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart were changed to Cool Spring Elementary, Lakemont Elementary and Pleasants Lane Elementary, respectively.

School board members voted in February to change the names and the city received a $20,000 donation earlier this year to cover the cost. A school spokeswoman said at the time that the donor wished to remain anonymous, but said she felt called to make the donation for racial justice.

“We must look to the future, not the past, to achieve our mission of developing 21st-century citizens able to effectively collaborate, communicate and innovate,” the school board wrote in a memo explaining their decision to consider the name changes. “One way to symbolize this forward movement is to consider changing the names of the three schools that are named for Confederate generals.”

Petersburg is just outside Richmond, which stood as the capital of the Confederate States of America.

Critics declared the school can't change history and should focus on student achievement rather than superficial name changes.

The changes came after the School Board put out a public survey for two weeks in January, as well a series of meetings where people voiced opinions from various standpoints.

Other schools across Virginia have made similar changes since a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville last summer renewed the debate over symbols and names that recognize the state's Confederate history.

Petersburg City Public Schools will offer the old signs and additional items with the previous names for sale

. The items should be posted within the next few days, the school district said.