By Luke Canavan
FRAMINGHAM – A virtual community forum was held yesterday, March 23, to discuss the process and timeline of renaming the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, which has been under scrutiny due to President Woodrow Wilson’s support of segregation and racist policies.
The initial suggestion to change the name of the school was presented by a group of Framingham students back in the Fall of 2020.
“Last year, with all the events going on in the country, there was a lot of attention brought to racial equity in the community. So myself and a few other students started doing some research into the history of our country’s leaders,” said student Laysa Mourao. “We learned about some of the unfortunate things that President Wilson did that we aren’t proud of, because they don’t represent our values or our diversity.”
Woodrow Wilson is often praised for his Fourteen Points, as well as his work in democracy and international diplomacy. However, Wilson was also a promoter of racist policies and even a supporter of white supremacist terrorist hate group the Ku Klux Klan. Because of this, Framingham and many other institutions across the country have decided it is wildly inappropriate and offensive to have a facility named after President Wilson.
After doing the research and discovering Wilson’s history of racism, the students got together and came up with ideas about what they could do to help change this. They took their ideas to Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay,
Wilson Elementary Principal Purnima DeMorais, and a few other key supporters, who helped the students create the committee and begin work on this project back in September.
At the virtual forum, Supt. Tremblay commended the hosts and speakers for how dedicated they have been to the cause, as well as all of the students who have been involved and really shown a true passion for the project over the last few months.
This January, the committee began to introduce the initiative to students and teachers. They started to explore Wilson’s past within the school and created a dialogue on the importance of social justice and anti-racism.
By February, the students and staff of Wilson Elementary were well informed on why it was so important to change the name of the school.
The students began creating projects that helped brainstorm potential new names.
Some of the suggested names from grades K-2 include:
- Feliz Escola
- IB Learner School
- Escola dos Amigos
- Caring Elementary School
Some of the suggested names from grades 3-5 include:
- Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School
- Crispus Attucks IB School
- Framingham Community IB School
- Ron Burton Sr. Elementary School
- Harmony Grove Elementary School
- Bridges Academy
A subcommittee of passionate volunteers has been created to help narrow down the names and ultimately vote on what will be the new name of the Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, said school leadership last night.
The deadline for name submissions is March 31.
A public hearing will be held on May 5.
Anyone who is interested in becoming involved is highly encouraged to attend so all of their suggestions can be heard.
The subcommittee will vote on the new name of the school on May 19.
Students will celebrate the naming of their new school in June.
Luke Canavan is a spring 2021 SOURCE intern. He is currently a senior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he studies Communication and English. He is passionate about film, television, writing, and literature, and upon graduation, he hopes to work in the entertainment industry full-time, where he can pursue his love for storytelling.