Don’t fret over Ripley’s record; name school for Ellen Garrison

May 31, 2024

I was happy to have had the opportunity to participate in the Town Meeting vote in which citizens urged, overwhelmingly, that the School Committee name the new middle school for Ellen Garrison. I was also struck by the opposition expressed by some that we were undercutting the authority of the School Committee by seeking reconsideration. Such petitions are so common in our judicial system that the rules of civil procedure contemplate “motions for reconsideration” even after a court has rendered a “final” decision. Why should a School Committee decision be any different?

Now, I read that the School Committee is still not ready to accept the clear message from Town Meeting (School Committee chair floats renaming Ripley Building for Ellen Garrison, May 10, 2024). The Chair is reportedly concerned that the building is currently named for a religious figure, and renaming it, rather than the middle school, for Garrison would resolve this issue. This consolation prize seems tone deaf. (Move to the rear of the bus?) One of the most compelling arguments expressed at Town Meeting, was that by naming the school for Ellen Garrison, the town would be inspiring many students to see Ms. Garrison as a role model.

I suggest that we should not worry too much about Mr. Ripley’s having served as a minister, lest the citizens of Brewster, Dennis, Harvard and Princeton (and the many other towns in Massachusetts named for members of the clergy) concern themselves similarly.

Like every judge sitting in our state and federal courts, the School Committee should accept the fact that they might have missed the mark on the first pass, and rule favorably on the Town’s “motion for reconsideration” by naming the middle school for Ellen Garrison.

Sigmund J. Roos

Wood Street