James Brown Funk Spirit High School

It's just a name and not such a big deal… or is it?

This coming Thursday the city school board will discuss the naming of the third high school. The naming committee has narrowed the choices down to three: Carrboro High School, South Chapel Hill High School, and Howard and Lillian Lee High School. These names seem all rather boring, given that there were 69 other names that could have generated lots more controversy.

Community members suggested such names as: Charles Darwin High School, Cesar Chavez High School, Robert E. Lee High School, Edith Wiggins High School, Rockin' Ravens High School, and on and on. I personally got a laugh out of 'The Insufferable Chapel Hill High School of the South". What name would you choose and why?



Approval of a name for the third high school is scheduled to occur on Thursday, January 19 at the regularly scheduled BOE meeting at Smith Middle School. The agenda lists this item under Discussion and Action Agenda at 7:35 PM. The discussion is by the board. Opportunity for Citizen Comments is scheduled at 7:20.

The agenda typically is posted the Friday before a meeting here:
Don't know why it is not posted there yet.

This naming controversy is bordering on ridiculous. The school's students will be evaluated for college admissions based on the quality of the individual school and the overall school system, not on what the name of the school is.

Some people would be well served to spend a little time in Eastern North Carolina, where parents have substantial issues surrounding school funding, recruiting decent teachers, and trying to provide a good education for their children with very meager resources.

Anita, Yes, but ...

For admission to top colleges, the two CH HSs are what, 1st and 2nd in the state (after NCSSM)? Those colleges will surely pay close attention. But since they are worth their dime, to paraphrase another comment, they will not automatically give the same tip-top ranking to the top students at the new school. Nor should they. They don't know how the demographics of the existing schools will divide up. (Yes, they should consequently review the existing HSs tip-top-ness, but they probably won't. These admissions offices may not be worth their quarter.)

Even the best systems in NC, those with several HSs or more, have significant disparity in student performance in their top quintiles. CHCSS is so self-contained, I think the third HS should be close to even in the top quintile. It will probably get the benefit of the doubt at top colleges.

But I can certainly understand the anxiety of a few parents whose kids will be the among its first graduating classes. They're not necessarily elitists just because their kids happen to have top marks and ambitions. Hypervigilant perhaps. They may or may not also be elitist, however that is defined. Top performance does not equate elitism; I think we all hope our respective physicians were not average students at Caribbean medical schools who cheated on their U.S. medical boards.

Yes, but the name of the school isn't going to change the fact that it's a new school with an unproven track record. No college is going to give a new school a tip top ranking based on its name. When East opened, many of these concerns were voiced as well.

My son was redistricted to Smith when it opened. We were certainly a little concerned about being part of a "new school" but had confidence that the administration would have the same standards of excellence and performance that had made the other middle schools so strong.

Bottom line, I think people are focusing on the wrong thing. What will make the school perfom well are the same ingredients that make our other schools work, and I don't see any reason to think that they won't be there in abundance.

Mike: The agenda has been posted. Thanks for the info.

I hope to see many of you Thursday; looks to me like there is much to discuss, besides this topic.

As Mike noted, see: http://www.chccs.k12.nc.us/SchoolBoard/BoardAgendas.asp

At tonight's BOA meeting I intend to encourage Carrboro residents to not do business with any real estate agents who think the name Carrboro hurts property values

I missed your message tonight-- I didn't get back to the screen in time after the 10 minute blue out-- but judging from the community relations write-up on the school board agenda, it sounds like 36 emails from Southern Village carry much weight. Perhaps people in Carrboro need to email our school board and let them know what they think too!

stuckey4schools@hotmail.com; jamezetta@juno.com; lizmcarter@intrex.net; Jean8113@hotmail.com; phemminger@bellsouth.net; mkelley@metasyn.com; easechrest@aol.com

Thanks, Mary, I'm emailing now. Any suggestion for content?

Jacquie, you go get 'em!

Hi Joan,
My argument went like this: The high school is within the Carrboro planning jurisdiction and Carrboro is a wonderful, forward-looking community that seeks to be just and fair. Carrboro is widely recognized as being a safe place for freedom of expression and intellectual pursuits. I would be proud to send my children to a high school named after Carrboro. The school will be part of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System; the Carrboro name does not change that fact.

Big raspberry for SV email campaign in today's CHN:

Here is a letter that I just sent to the school board and to the newspapers
As a citizen of Carrboro and a five term member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen I have been deeply offended by the rash of emails working their way through our community in opposition to naming the new high school Carrboro High.I have been paying taxes for thirty years to help make ours one of the best school systems in the nation.All of the residents of Carrboro have willingingly paid the extra tax dollars that are needed to provide the children of our community with an excellent education.The excellent school system which we have built has attracted many new families who come here for the expressed purpose of sending their kids to our schools.Now we learn that there are parents who moved here to take advantage of the school system that we have paid for for many years who believe that having our town's name on the new high school which is being built in Carrboro will diminish the value of their child's education.I,and many other Carrboro taxpayers,am very insulted by this attitude.If our tax dollares are good enough to pay for your child's education then our twon's name is good enough to be on the school they attend.The compromise of Carrboro High School-Chapel Hill/Carrboro Schools is also insulting,for many years the children of Carrbro have attended high schools whose names do not include "Carrboro".I strongly encourage you to respect the contributins of the citizens of Carrboro to our schools by naming the new high school Carrboro.
Jacquelyn Gist
Alderman,Town of Carrboro

Wow, Jacquie, that's some good stuff.

My emails weren't that good (!) but I did say that the suggestion that the name "Carrboro" would compromise the quality of education or opportunities for its students was both elitist and without merit. I also said it's an important issue of community pride for Carrboro.

By the way, today I also learned that the design of the high school is based in part on the look of Carr Mill Mall and historic Carrboro.

I emailed all the school board members last night and already heard back from Mike Kelly and Lisa Stuckey, which I really appreciated.

and further more...

To those who think that the name Carrboro carrries too much progressive political baggage I'd say that it is no accident that the best school system in the state(and I say that knowing full well that there are many problems still to be solved) is in the most progressive community in the state.Only progressive communities can see beyond the "no taxes at any cost" fever to be willing to pay the cost of an excellent school system.


Only progressive communities can see beyond the “no taxes at any cost” fever to be willing to pay the cost of an excellent school system.
Which might be why merging with OC raises such hackles and red flags? (to mix my metaphors...)

melanie/running for cover

I don't know what happened to the quotation marks I put around Jacquie's statement--but I'm pretty sure they were there! I tried to do the cool "quote box thingy" to. So much for MY HTML skillz.

If I were a school board member whose term ends in 2007, (an election year without any major national elections to marginalize local issues) and I wanted to lose every single vote in the town of Carrboro, I think putting the words "Chapel Hill" in the name of Carrboro High School would be a good place to start.


I suspect that the excellence of the Chapel Hill/Carrboro school system has less to do with the progressive nature of Chapel Hill/Carrboro and more to do with the affluence of the community relative to other communities in the state. the quality of suburban school systems seems to track the affluence of communities. At least that was my experience in suburban Kansas City and St. Louis.

Here's the latest from the DTH on this issue-


Hopefully the School Board will do the right thing tonight.

I find this quote disturbing:
"Where Carrboro has a growing reputation, Chapel Hill already has a reputation - a reputation of high-quality education," said Stephanie Knott, assistant to the superintendent for community relations.

Did Ms. Knott really say this? Seems like quite a gaffe coming from a community relations person...

Sounds like Ms. Knott was talking out of school.

You may have heard this by now, but I'm seeing any reports from the school board meeting, so allow me. Obviously, many interested observers are tied up with the Carrboro BOA interviews, which was noted at the meeting.

The recommendation for the name Carrboro High School passed 7-0.

The deliberation focused entirely on a set of citizen comments proposing the name Lincoln High School or some variation. The speakers in favor of the Lincoln name included students and teachers from East Chapel Hill and several graduates from the original Lincoln High. The important board comments came from Liz Carter, who gave an impassioned response, directly to the Lincoln High grads, to the effect that given the needs of African American students in the district, a school name was the least of their problems. I am doing injustice to her comments, but that's a quick paraphrase.

Liz moved to vote on the Carrboro High School name and it was passed unanimously. You may have noticed four proposed resolutions on the agenda: only the Carrboro proposal was actually voted on.

Two minor clarifications:

* ALL of the public comments were speakers supporting the Lincoln High School proposal.

* The Carrboro High name wasn't just recommended: it was officially "chosen".


BTW, I think the DTH article did Ms. Knott a disservice. The break in paragraphs led me to believe that the remark I quoted was coming from Ms. Knott, when in fact I think she was characterizing an argument of others.

I was unable to catch the proceedings, but would be interested to know whether there was discussion about the School Board's agenda item concerning the services provided by the Pacific Education Group, and if so, what was said.

Eric: My apologies; I had to leave after the Smith progress report.

Well, I seem to have lost a post, so summary time.
I live in SV.
I like Carrboro High.
I think its silly to change name, Chapel Hill, should we change Scroggs to Chapel Hill, even though it is a great Elementary School?
People in SV worrying about property values is about as ridiculous as people in the Sahara worrying about the cost of sand.

"The feel-good elected body decision of the year- two thumbs up!"

-Ebert and Roper

Ian, thanks so much for the update.

Regarding Lincoln School: I thought I read somewhere (the Herald? CH News?) that the school board wants eventually to re-open Lincoln School in its existing spot and so didn't want to use the name elsewhere. Was there any discussion of this at the school board meeting?

Joan; I recall Liz mentioning her unhappiness about the lack of schools in traditionally African-American neighborhoods, but that specific scenario wasn't discussed. I think there were a grand total of three remarks from the board prior to the vote. Lisa Stuckey and Mike Kelley very briefly (I mean, in one breath) dismissed concerns about college admissions.

Liz's comments dominated the discussion: she was, if I have this right: "As angry as I have ever been." She actually pounded the table. She clearly felt that the Lincoln proposal was trivializing the education crisis for African Americans in the district, and wasn't in the mood to talk about future naming opportunites. It was a very emotional moment.

I don't know her and I'm sure I've missed something important, but that's what I saw.

BTW: A couple of the citizen speakers expressed unhappiness about the communication on this process; they said they hadn't heard about this meeting until two days ago. I imagine a community relations post mortem would be worth considering, since this process will be repeated several times in the near future.

The obvious (and appropriate) choice is Carrboro High School. The snot patrol can whine all they want. Chapel Hill High probably has its name as it was the only high school in town. When they opened East, the name made sense because it was geographically correct. Yes, there was a lot of bluster to make sure it kept the "Chapel HIll" in the name, but in the end, I would hope that a school board has enough sense to shelve that nonsense.

I though Cam's idea was hilarious, as was his intent. Reminded me of the University of New Jersey at Durham.

The boneheads who advocate to put "CH" in the name of a Carrboro-located school are doing a couple of things.
1) They forget that the big deal CHHS reputation is the culmination of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district. Those kids don't just drop into the high school as idiots and come out scholars.
2) They sure don''t give college admissions officers a whole lot of credit for being able to sort this out. I happen to live next door to one, but of course she works for Carolina.
3) The faculty will make or break the school. They're not coming from Mars, they're coming from CHHS and ECHHS.
4) Last, and not at all least, they give next to zero credit TO THEIR KIDS for getting admitted to the college of their choice. I mean ... 'scuse me, but I think it's their grades their commitment to academics that an admission decision rides on --- not the NAME of their high school. The son of a friend of ours went from Durham High straight to Harvard as a freshman, then on to MIT for grad school. And his parents didn't even have to buy a building.

Uh, Jean...I'm guessing you missed the news. The official name is Carrboro High School; the board finalized it last night. See my post and this morning's blurb:


The important point is this: the Chapel Hill proposal wasn't just rejected; it wasn't even part of the discussion last night.

I'm following up with this information to make a point: the School Board could not have done and said more to support the wishes of the Carrboro High proponents, and given the doubts expressed here earlier, they deserve some props.

I was, originally, one of those boneheads; see way above. And they say productive deliberation in the blogosphere is dead.

I thought it would be unlikely that HS #3 would be called some variant of CH High. However, I pretty much knew that incorporating "Chapel Hill" into the name was DOA once the SV email campaign began. Having observed the School Board for several years, I doubt that any of the seven would be sympathetic to an argument based on "brand" consciousness and property values.

The emailers not only shot themselves in the foot, they emptied a whole clip!!

Jean, I'm wandering a bit off topic, and not doubting the choice of Carrboro High, which I think was absolutely the right one. But I think that college admissions officers, particularly at the most competitive schools, do pay some attention to which high school kids are applying from.

Admissions offices have to make tough choices about hundreds and hundreds of highly competitive files, and while in an ideal world I'm sure they'd come to each file utterly fresh and on its own merits, they're staffed by human beings who (like the rest of us) use certain bits of information as proxies for things they don't know. By this I mean that admissions officers come to know something about the academic programs at the schools within the county/state/region they're responsible for, and they inevitably factor that information into their evaluation of the applicant.

Even in blog intended to express the progressive viewpoint, I would resist the temptation to call your opponents "boneheads". "Non-progressive" people actually read this stuff, and you can, potentially, help them.

Do you prefer catharsis, or persuasion? You get to choose one. Take your pick.

Thanks, Ian, but I prefer bonehead. After all, I count myself one now and then, as with today when I posted, then picked up the paper and cracked up. I'm with Elizabeth Carter's comments.

The board made the right call and, oh, yes, those who advanced this silly idea thought better of standing up for it.

Jean: I'm a charter member of that club too. Peace, out.

How about a vote for George Canada High School... The Mascot could be the "Catbaby". I think it'd be a much better testament to the culture and history of the area than many of the other suggestions. If we were looking for something that reflected the current culture and spirit of the Carrboro area, how about Karl Marx High?

If you want to celebrate all that's been good about Carrboro both in the past and in recent history, my Vote is for Hilliard Caldwell High. Although Catbaby High would be good too...



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