The first meeting of the Meriwether Lewis Community Advisory Committee will be held virtually on October 18 at 4 p.m. A total of 12 school and community members have been selected to serve on the committee, which will review the name of the school consistent with a school board directive and the Albemarle County Public Schools (ACPS) facility naming policy. This organizational meeting will be closed to the public.
Meriwether Lewis Elementary School (MLES) is the eighth school in the division to have its name reviewed following the Albemarle County School Board’s 2018 decision to have Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Matthew Haas, evaluate all schools named for individuals. Of the division’s 25 schools, 14 are named for individuals.
At its organizational meeting, the committee will review and approve a community survey that will be sent to families in the school’s attendance zone to solicit suggestions for the name of their school. The committee also will decide on the dates of two public meetings. The first of those meetings will ask the community to offer their views on all of the names that are proposed in the community survey. The committee will narrow the list of names to five semi-finalists, and a second public meeting will seek comment on those names. The public is encouraged to join those meetings to share any information they have that would help inform the process.
Members of the community and the committee can recommend either a new name be chosen for the school or the retention of its current name. If the advisory committee selects the current school name as one of its three finalists, the policy requires the committee to examine if Meriwether Lewis, for whom the school is named, made contributions to the community of state, national, or world-wide significance. It also requires committee members to determine if his personal and professional conduct exemplified the school board’s values of equity, excellence, family and community, and wellness.
Members of the advisory committee were chosen from among those who expressed interest in serving on the committee. Three committee members are from the MLES faculty, including Jennifer Underwood and Laura Morris, the school’s principal and assistant principal, respectively. Also, Cheryl Wetmore-Simpson, a teacher at MLES, will serve as the advisory committee chair. Seth Lovell, Tamika Elliot, Corey Brandon Lindsey, and Jessica Allen are all parents of students at MLES. Five additional committee members live in the school community, but do not have students attending Meriwether Lewis: Caroline Ayres, Lorenzo Dickerson, Robert Stubin, Charles Timko, and Janet Webster. The ACPS Director of Community Education, Karen Waters, will serve as the project manager of the name review process.
Of the name review committee, Wetmore-Simpson said: “I’m eager to engage with the MLES community to learn more about our school’s history. Our committee is made up of a diverse and multigenerational group of people who are deeply invested not only in the school, but also in the well-being of the entire MLES community. They are dedicated to reaching the best outcome possible in this process.”
Updates regarding the Meriwether Lewis Elementary School Naming Review are accessible on the school division’s School Naming Review website, along with current information on all school naming reviews. Community members with questions or suggestions about the Meriwether Lewis naming review can email the advisory committee at SchoolNamingReview@k12albemarle.org.
Meriwether Lewis was born in 1774 in the present-day community of Ivy. He is best known for his role as the leader, along with William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which was commissioned by Thomas Jefferson just after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Jefferson named Lewis governor of Upper Louisiana in 1806. He died in 1809.
The committee’s recommendation on a school name will be provided to the superintendent, who, in turn, will make a recommendation to the school board. The board will make the final decision on the school’s name. If that decision is to change the name of the school, the new name would become effective next July 1.
CONTACT: Helen Dunn, Deputy Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer