In the first step of the current naming review of Meriwether Lewis Elementary School, more than 94% of respondents to an online survey said they were familiar with the life and career of the school’s namesake, Meriwether Lewis. Lewis was an early American explorer and politician for whom the school was named when it was first built in 1922.
The survey also asked respondents to submit name suggestions for the school. Meriwether Lewis received the largest number of recommendations followed by Ivy and Owensville Elementary.
The online survey received responses from 421 people, including more than 200 Albemarle County Public Schools parents and employees, 148 community members, and 51 students. It also asked those who took the survey which naming categories were important to consider in naming a school. Location topped the list.
A community meeting to discuss the survey results will be held on Wednesday, November 9, at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. During the meeting, community members can offer comments and share their thoughts about the history of the school and the survey results. Members of the community who would like to speak at the meeting should register by emailing SchoolNamingReview@k12albemarle.org no later than 9 a.m. on the 9th.
Following the public meeting on Wednesday, the community advisory committee conducting the naming review will narrow the list of names under consideration to five for further community input. If Meriwether Lewis ends up being one of the committee’s three finalists, the committee will research the life of Mr. Lewis to determine if that name is consistent with school division values. The school naming review policy also requires that any descendants of the Lewis family be notified of the naming review.
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. Lewis died in 1809.
The volunteer advisory committee was chosen from those who expressed interest in serving. It includes the school’s principal, Jennifer Underwood; assistant principal, Laura Morris; and Cheryl Wetmore-Simpson, a teacher at the school who is also serving as the committee chair. Four additional committee members are parents of students who attend Meriwether Lewis, and five live in the school community but do not have students attending the school.
“The high number of responses we received from the Meriwether Lewis community gives our name review advisory committee a great amount of feedback to draw from as we proceed in this process. We are delighted at the response rate and the engagement that our families, students, employees and neighbors have shown,” said Wetmore-Simpson. She added, “The fact that so many people are choosing to give their feedback means that we will be able to make the most informed name recommendation possible as our committee work progresses.”
Meriwether Lewis is the eighth school in the division to conduct a naming review. In directing that all schools in the division that are named for individuals have their names reviewed, the school board said the purpose should be to ensure that the names of all schools represent the division’s four values of equity, excellence, family and community, and wellness.
The seven previous school naming reviews also were conducted by volunteer community advisory committees, with the school board approving four new names and retaining the names of the three other schools. Summaries of all completed reviews and those in progress are available on the school division’s School Names Under Review web page.
Updates regarding the Meriwether Lewis Elementary School Naming Review, including survey results, are accessible on the school division’s School Naming Review website. Community members with questions or suggestions about the Meriwether Lewis naming review can email the advisory committee at SchoolNamingReview@k12albemarle.org.
Any member of the public who would like to livestream the November 9 public meeting may do so at http://streaming.k12albemarle.org/ACPS/schoolnamingreview.htm.
CONTACT: Helen Dunn, Deputy Public Affairs and Strategic Communications Officer