HomeNewsNeighbors pan Wilson Middle School name-changing process

Neighbors pan Wilson Middle School name-changing process

From left: Jessica Delia, Robert Rudnitsky, Joe Bozzelli, Heather Miller, Nancy Ostroff, Aaron Bashir.

Some neighborhood activists gathered on the steps of Woodrow Wilson Middle School to chastise the faculty for what they said was a secretive process to rename the school.

They aren’t angry that the name is being changed and don’t oppose the new name, Castor Gardens Middle School.

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But they fault staff for doing little to publicize the process.

“There was no community outreach done,” said Heather Miller.

The name change is expected to become official at the June 23 school board meeting, made due to the former president’s views and policies on race.

Neighbors say there are bigger issues than a name change, ranging from fights to poor air conditioning to a lack of metal detectors.

“This school is known for violence and gangs,” said Miller, a candidate in the recent 203rd Legislative District Democratic primary, who called for anti-violence classes.

Nancy Ostroff, who attended Wilson from seventh to ninth grades when it was a junior high, contacted every member of City Council, and none said they were aware of a name change. Ostroff also noted that the school did not reach out to Take Back Your Neighborhood or any other civic association, causing hard feelings. She also pointed out that a more open process could have produced a name change to a prominent person with ties to the school and/or community.

“We found out by accident,” she said. “No one knew about it.”

Republican congressional candidate Aaron Bashir, who has a son at the school, described the process as being conducted by insiders behind closed doors.

“They should have asked for feedback from everybody,” he said, adding that he favors the teaching of values and the Ten Commandments in schools.

Jessica Delia and Robert Rudnitsky said people in academia and politics have lately been demanding “inclusion,” but said they and others were excluded in this case.

“The issue is not the name change. The issue is the process,” Delia said.

Rudnitsky likened the surprise name change to the middle-of-the-night removal of the Frank Rizzo statue. He sees a lack of leadership in the city. He credited his fellow Take Back Your Neighborhood member, Ostroff, with reaching out to political figures, but attracting only Bashir and a neutral observer from state Rep. Jared Solomon’s office.

“Nobody bothered to even come,” Rudnitsky said. “Where’s our City Council?” ••

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