The Many Opinions on Robert E. Lee HS Name Change

The Many Opinions on Robert E. Lee HS Name Change

By: Tess Maloney and Katie McGillicuddy
October 30, 2020

Starting in the 2020-2021 school year, Robert E. Lee HS will now be known as John Lewis HS. This idea was proposed by a representative, Tamara Derenak Kaufax, a school board member in FCPS. Robert E. Lee was a Confederate leader during the Civil War. People around FCPS started to notice the racist past of this high school’s name, and the change was considered for well over a year. Members of the community felt unsafe and uncomfortable attending Robert E. Lee, but now they’re proud to go to a school named after a man who fought for racial justice his entire life.

As we learned about the opinions of the community surrounding Lee, we wondered how Glasgow students felt, or if they even knew about it. During our research, we sent out a survey. Out of 130 students, 35 said they had been paying attention to this name change. As for the others, 35 said they paid no attention, and 60 said they only paid a little. With that being said, 44.6% of those 130 students said the name needed to be changed. 23.1% said they saw no need for the change, and 32.3% had no opinion. Furthermore, we asked these students to expand on what they said and explain why they think there was such a big controversy surrounding the changes. Below are some of the responses we got from these students:

After receiving this information, we wondered about the reasoning behind the students’ answers. Some students said the names were offensive, and that the school would be looked down on because of who it was named after. They said it’s offensive and unacceptable, while others see no reason it needed to be changed, or are at the point where they are unaware why the change happened. “By changing the name, students and staff are showing they are pushing to accept diversity,” one student responded. Alternatively, another student voiced their opinion on the unimportance of the name change by saying, “Those confederates are a part of our history. I hate what they stood for, but I feel like we are having way too much controversy. Look at the long game, who cares? It’s the name of a high school, not a newly established country.”

After everything we learned and discovered from this FCPS name change, we can conclude that the Glasgow community has mixed opinions about the Lee name change, whether it’s feeling the name change was necessary or not, or have no opinion on it at all. But at Lee, they are very happy to be attending a school with such an inspiring name. In the end, the school board and Lee community prioritized the comfort of the students and parents by naming it after an inspiring figure who fought for civil rights, not slavery.