Honor Louisa May Alcott, Peabody, and Garrison at new middle school

May 26, 2024

I write on my own behalf regarding the debate about the name of the new middle school, which has touched on some other school names as well. I offer the following idea, which would address multiple related issues at once: 

First, formally resolve that while the name “Alcott Elementary School” continues to honor Bronson Alcott, it also honors, here forward, Louisa May Alcott. A plaque at Alcott could then state that the school’s name honors both Bronson and Louisa. This should happen anyway, why not now? 

Second, leave the name “Concord Middle School” as is, respecting the vote, and the reasonable, good-faith judgment, of our elected, hardworking, volunteer School Committee. However, with an explanatory plaque in each instance: 

     a. Name the library of the new middle school the “Ellen Garrison Library,” with Ms. Garrison’s motto above the door (“Educate, Educate, Educate.”)

     b. Name the auditorium the “Elizabeth Peabody Auditorium”. Ms. Peabody was a force in her own right. As one of America’s first female publishers, she printed none other than Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”. Her name was on one of two middle school buildings for decades; this honor can be preserved even as those buildings are retired. 

    c.  Also to carry forward the prior names, the new middle school’s athletic fields would be called the “Sanborn Fields” (or similar). 

This solution would at once enliven and honor the names of three Concord women — Garrison, Alcott, and Peabody — while maintaining an honor long ago conferred on Franklin Sanborn, teacher and ardent abolitionist. These people of different backgrounds and achievements — and others like Bronson Alcott — would stand together, with none of them being left out or behind. Wouldn’t this embracing approach be both appropriate as a symbol of Concord, and inspiring for everyone to see, including young people?

David S. Clancy
Monsen Road