Ask students what to name the middle school 

April 13, 2024

We have read many opinion contributions in favor of naming the new middle school the Ellen Garrison Middle School. 

We moved to Concord for its schools 30 years ago and our daughters’ education in them contributed greatly to their later graduating from Harvard and Brown. Since we are past the schooling part of our lives, the naming does not have any real effect on us. However, it does have a significant effect on current and future generations of young people attending the schools and their school spirit.   

Most young people identify with the town where they live, especially in activities such as sports or musical ensembles. Rather than asking only us older people what the middle school name should be, why aren’t the current middle and high school students asked also? We should wonder how they would feel about naming the middle school or high school after anyone rather than the town they identify with.  

With multiple elementary schools, naming them after people from our past makes sense. 

However, that need does not apply with single middle and high schools. With only one exception I can think of, these schools are named after their town. Even Newton, with its two high schools, named them Newton North and Newton South. Even many private schools are named after their towns including Concord Academy, Milton Academy, Belmont Hill School, Phillips Andover, Phillips Exeter and many others.  

I wonder how many townspeople know where the Bromfield School is. That’s the name of the public high school in the town of Harvard. It probably is named Bromfield since it was founded as a private school before converting to a public school some decades later.  Perhaps a good alternative is to honor a person by naming an important part of the school, such as the auditorium, after the person. The Ellen Garrison Auditorium has a nice ring to it! 

Gene Studlien 

Deer Grass Lane