DATE: December 11, 2019
CONTACT: Phil Giaramita, Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer
Cale Community Advisory Committee Agrees With the School’s Students and Staff: Mountain View Will Be Recommended to the School Board as the School’s New Name
(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – Following its meeting last evening to hear from the community on new names for Cale Elementary School, the Cale Community Advisory Committee unanimously agreed the new name should be Mountain View Elementary School.
The committee, meeting in executive session, made its decision after last evening’s meeting. Committee Chairman Dennis Rooker said he plans to attend the Albemarle County School Board meeting on January 9 to formally present the Board with the committee’s recommendation.
“The school community has spoken,” said Rooker, referencing a vote in which more than 800 students and teachers at the school participated. Their overwhelming choice was Mountain View, a suggestion that originally came from students last month.
“Our committee intended to decide on our recommendation in early January, but following the information we received last evening, it was clear that Mountain View, by far, was the popular choice, and it also was a name that generated complete agreement from all committee members. There was no reason to keep students, parents, teachers and staff wondering any longer about our recommendation,” Rooker added.
Superintendent Dr. Matthew Haas said the most significant outcome of the renaming process has been the leadership role by those who had the most at stake—the school’s students, families and staff. “They had an opportunity that may well be relatively rare in public education, which is to decide for themselves what should be their school’s name,” he said.
Haas said that, beyond that decision, a more valuable accomplishment was the way in which the Cale community came together throughout the process. “The reason why a new name was being considered in the first place,” he said, “was to put greater emphasis on the values we share as a school division, including excellence, young people, community, and respect. Students, parents and staff did that exceedingly well,” he said.
The school’s principal, Cyndi Wells, credited the school’s media specialist, Anna Balazs, and the treasurer of its Parent Teacher Organization, Lauren Eddy, for their work with Albemarle County’s Board of Elections to conduct the vote last week. All who cast a ballot received an “I Voted” sticker, just as voters do who participate in primary and general elections. “We turned this into an authentic civics lesson,” Wells said. “Our students proudly wore their stickers throughout the day,” she added.
In addition to the election held at the school to decide upon the six names that were proposed by the advisory committee, the school also had a suggestion box, which yielded more than 300 entries for consideration. In choosing the six finalists, the advisory committee picked from among those suggestions.
“I want to thank our teachers and staff and especially our students for their enthusiasm and support of one another and for demonstrating what makes our school so extraordinary,” said Wells. “This was a highly inclusive process, one that builds momentum for our future success,” she said.
In a community survey earlier this year, the majority of respondents said the new name should be based upon the school’s location. In addition to Mountain View, the advisory committee also considered Avon, Avon Ridge, Biscuit Run, Mill Creek, and Southside as possible new names for the school.
The process to select a new name for the school dates back to the School Board’s meeting on October 25, 2018, in which the Board directed Haas to review the policy on the naming of school buildings and facilities, adding school division values to the naming criteria. The Board further directed the superintendent to review the names of all schools currently named for individuals to ensure they meet the new criteria. The review of Cale Elementary School was the first such review.
The advisory committee includes three parents of Cale students and two members of the Cale community who do not have children now attending the school. Also serving on the committee are two teachers from the school and the school’s associate principal and principal. The committee is chaired by Rooker, a former Albemarle County Supervisor, and also includes the school division’s Assistant Superintendent for School Community Empowerment, Dr. Bernard Hairston.
The school, which originally was to be named Southside Elementary School, was renamed for Paul Cale in time for its opening in 1990. Over the past several months, the committee reviewed records, documents and interviews with members of the Cale family and with educators and students who worked in or attended Albemarle County Public Schools during the years when Paul Cale was superintendent.
In September, the committee unanimously recommended to Haas that the school’s name be changed. Both the Superintendent and the School Board agreed, leading to the committee reconvening to recommend a new name.
Cale served as superintendent of schools from 1947 until 1969; a plaque to be displayed in the school will note this fact.