If retired educator Rosa Lee Owens had her way, the new Grovetown Middle School would be named to honor Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau.
"Our mayor, Mr. Trudeau has given his life for this country. We need to bow our heads in shame if we don't recognize him for what he has done. He is a person with a vision who has unselfishly given of himself. I say let's recognize someone who has given so much for his people. I propose we change this policy to name this school for him," Ms. Owens told the board at a recent meeting.
But that's not going to happen.
Under a policy the board approved last week, no school will carry the name of any individual. But the new policy does allow school facilities - libraries, gymnasiums, athletic fields, etc. - to bear the names of "outstanding citizens." To be considered, though, the person must be either deceased for three years or at least 65 and retired.
These stipulations are bad news for Greenbrier Athletic Boosters who had brought the issue up last year because they wanted the baseball field named after retired baseball coach Terry Holder.
"What brought this back before us was the request from the booster club president at Greenbrier High who had written us a letter a year ago asking that the baseball field be named after retired baseball coach Terry Holder," said School Superintendent Tommy Price. "We knew we had to get some procedures in place."
Mr. Holder, who retired in 1999, is only 55 years old.
At Greenbrier he won three Class AAA Championships in the school's first three years. He actually has eight state championships to his name, having won five at Evans (Class AAAA) before he transferred to Greenbrier. He won all his state championships within 12 years.
Before the board took action to change the policy, school buildings couldn't be named after people, but school facilities could - as was the John Pierce Blanchard Stadium at Evans. There was, however, no set procedure in place for naming facilities.
If you ask Jon Thornhill, former Greenbrier Athletic Booster president, the policy was changed specifically to exclude Mr. Holder.
"There are people on that board who vehemently dislike Terry Holder," Mr. Thornhill said. "I've had two kids fortunate enough to play for him and they would not be where they are without his coaching ability and his ability to get the best out of kids. This kind of feat that he did over the course of the years at Greenbrier and Evans will never be duplicated. Nobody is ever going to come along like Terry Holder."
The policy requires that school principals appoint a committee to study the naming request and forward their recommendation to a system-level naming committee. That committee would then make a recommendation to the superintendent who would bring it before the board for a vote. Winning approval would mean that a plaque would be installed with that person's name on it.
Mr. Trudeau said he would also like to see the new Grovetown Middle School named after someone - one of city's prominent families such as the Pollards or the Blanchards, or after Don Thornhill, who served in education at every level, from a coach, to superintendent of Columbia County schools, to a member of the state Department of Education.
Mr. Thornhill says the school should stick to its working title and remain Grovetown Middle School.
About 1970, when Mr. Thornhill was Grovetown's assistant superintendent and John Pierce Blanchard was superintendent, Mr. Thornhill said, the school board passed a policy requiring schools to be named for location, rather than after individuals.
John Pierce Blanchard High School was converted to a junior high school and became Columbia Junior High School; Gibbs Elementary became Evans Elementary; George T. White School became South Harlem Elementary School (and has since closed).
What's in a name? There are several school facilities around the county currently named for outstanding citizens. There is the Jabez Hardin Library at Evans High School, the Mary Sanders Library at North Harlem Elementary School and the Charles Lazenby Field at Columbia Middle School. Following the naming of the Jabez Hardin Library, his son established a scholarship endowment which provides $2,000 a year to five Columbia County public school students, a scholarship which is given annually to recipients throughout their college career.
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