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Stonewall Jackson Middle School: from the eyes of an alumna

Stonewall Jackson Middle School

ROANOKE, Va. - Monday morning the Roanoke City School Board will hold a meeting to decide whether or not to change the name of Stonewall Jackson Middle School.

Elisabeth Cass is an alumna of the school - attending it eight years ago in seventh and eighth grade.

"The first thing that pops into your mind is, 'Oh! He's part of a certain part of history,'" she said.

Last year, the historic name was put into question prompting the Roanoke City School Board to decide on a possible name change. 

"It is absolutely very close, very divided," said vice chair of the school board, Mark Cathey. "In a web survey, 50.8% to 49.2% among city residents which is incredibly close."

Cathey says the name simply comes with the time it was built.

"There's no rationale or reasoning in the documents for why it was named that - it just kind of was named that. Our research revealed that that was the custom in the 1920s to name buildings after Confederate generals."

For Cass, the name has a special meaning, and taking the name out of context is the reason for the divide.

"History that happened then was relevant then, and it was important - and what happened and the people that were involved and who made an impact - and they made a huge impact and then for us to take it out of context to circumstances that are happening today, I don't think is a wise thing to do."

To her, changing the name would change a piece of her history.

"I had two extraordinary years there, I wouldn't change it for anything. And I feel like if the name changed those parts of my memories wouldn't be as important anymore."

A community divided - leaving the decision in the school board's hands.

"I think it's important to keep the name, and I think it's important to teach the children what actually happened."

The meeting to decide whether or not to change the name will take place on Monday, July 16 at 7:30 a.m.

WFXR will be on scene for updates.

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