Staunton holds listening sessions on possible R.E. Lee name change

Published: Jul. 10, 2018 at 6:51 PM EDT
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The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities partnered with Staunton to hold two listening sessions Tuesday on a range of topics — including a possible name change for the high school.

The listening sessions were a chance for the community to offer feedback about diversity in Staunton City Schools as well as their thoughts on the possibility of changing the name of Robert E. Lee High School.

More than 100 people came out for the event at noon to share their opinions on changing the name.

Several people spoke out against changing the name. They said the current name isn't inclusive to all groups that attend the school.

"It is unjust that black children should be made to feel like unwanted guests in their own home as they have since 1914," said Edward Scott, a Staunton resident.

"It projects the wrong idea about our city and how we treat people of color," said C.J. Hill, a Staunton resident. "It serves as a painful reminder to so many students that they have not been fully welcomed into their public schools."

Not everyone who spoke at the listening session was in favor of changing the name.

There were some people who spoke in favor of keeping the name to save the legacy of the school. Others wanted to keep the name because they felt the cost of changing the name would be better spent somewhere else.

"Spending a million dollars to change the name while our children are going without is simply irresponsible," said Donna Tinsley, a Staunton resident.

There was a second listening session at 6:00 p.m., also in the gym at Gypsy Hill Park.

The VCIC said they would compile all the comments from both sessions and find trends within the comments.

The trends and comments would then be shared with the school board and other administrators as they make their decision regarding whether or not to change the name.