Hazel Jackson, Leon ‘Buddy’ Glover and Barack Obama are among the names School District of Lancaster is considering to rename two of its schools.
The school district’s 15-member renaming committee this week unveiled five options for Southeast Middle School, formerly Edward Hand Middle School, and seven for Buchanan Elementary School.
It’s the latest development in a process that started last summer to rename up to five Lancaster schools to reflect the district’s values today. The school board began by stripping Edward Hand Middle School of its name in June 2020, after community members pushed for the removal of the former Revolutionary War general and slave owner’s name from the school.
The new name for Buchanan Elementary School, named after former President James Buchanan, who also owned slaves, is expected to grace a newly built building in Lancaster Township.
Options for Southeast include Jackson, the first Black woman to teach in Lancaster; Glover, Lancaster’s first Black principal; Olympian and 1938 McCaskey High School graduate Henry ‘Barney’ Ewell; Lydia Hamilton Smith, a successful Black businesswoman in 19th century Lancaster; and Lancaster historian Leroy Hopkins.
Nominees for Buchanan include Millersville University professor and civil rights activist Rita Smith-Wade-El; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; President Obama; Ruby Bridges, the first Black student to integrate an elementary School in the South; Ewell; Hamilton Smith; and West End Elementary School.
Of the nominations, only Hopkins and Obama are living. West End is the only option not named after a local or historical figure.
Hopkins is a consultant for Lancaster’s renaming committee, but he is not a voting member.
“I am very pleased to see the amount of people who took part in this and how important it is to the community,” committee chair and school board Vice President Robin Goodson said.
Goodson said more than 200 people submitted names for the committee to consider. In total, there were 25 nominations for each school. Once nominations were final, each committee member selected their top five choices. Whichever names were picked the most ended up on the list unveiled during the committee’s meeting Monday night.
“They’re all worthy candidates,” Goodson said. “I would be pleased to hang any one of (their names) over top of the buildings.”
Next, a representative for each nominee will present to the committee in an all-day, public event at the McCaskey campus on March 20. Each presentation will be graded using a rubric focusing on legacy, accomplishments and contributions of service, community relevance and impact on students.
The committee will solicit feedback on the nominees from March 21 to April 3, and then it will reveal a final three picks for each school a few weeks later. The school board is expected to vote on the names of both schools May 18.