‘Concord Middle School’ fine — but not as good as ‘Ellen Garrison’

April 24, 2024

As a lifelong educator and parent of two Concord students I wanted to take a moment to comment on the current discussion surrounding the new middle school. A large portion of the commentary appears to follow the logic that, since the School Committee had a tie vote on whether to name the middle school after Concordian civil rights activist Ellen Garrison and then almost immediately voted 3-2 to name it something different, the community should not voice our disagreement. Why? Isn’t that the spirit of Town Meeting? If the community votes to stand up for Ellen, the School Committee members have a decision to make, if not, then not. It seems silly to suggest that having a ballot item at Town Meeting to provide guidance is somehow deteriorating the fabric of our social and political landscape.  

The message from Dr. Hunter, with regard to naming, centered around unity. What could be more unitying than naming the school for a woman who literally stood for inclusivity, who stood for education, who stood for the values that Concord espouses?  Ellen Garrison was a revolutionary leader, a civil rights and education advocate like none other in Concord’s history. Thanks to the Robbins House many people, myself included, have been educated about this amazing woman. Good schools use their names for inspiration, guiding students to strive for the ethics, values and beliefs which their namesake stood for.  

What better name could we choose than Ellen Garrison?

There is nothing wrong with the name Concord Middle School. It is descriptive, nothing less nothing more. Let’s do more. Let’s use the name to inspire, support and challenge every student who walks the halls over the next 50 years. Let’s stand up for Ellen.  

Matt Conroy

Barrett’s Mill Road