Prince William County is preparing to select a name for the county’s 12th high school. There has been much controversy about the school — the fact that it is the costliest high school ever built in Virginia as well as its location next to the county dump, the discovery of an unmarked graveyard on the property, the inclusion of two swimming pools (which has led some to deride it as “Capt. Nemo High School”), an automated orchestra lift and a black box theater while many students throughout the county are relegated to trailers in overcrowded schools. Regardless of whether you support the design of the school or not, those are topics for another time and should not play a role in any serious discussion surrounding the selection of the school’s name. As InsideNOVA reports:
A Prince William School Board committee will hold its final meeting tonight to discuss names for the county’s 12th high school, scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.
The Board of Supervisors weighed in on the matter last week by passing a unanimous resolution calling for the new school to be named for retiring state Sen. Charles J. Colgan, who served Prince William and Manassas voters in the 29th district for 40 years.
There’s also a petition circulating on social media to name the school for Firefigther Kyle Wilson, a Hylton High School graduate who died while fighting a local house fire on April 16, 2007.
These are legitimate suggestions, although in the case of Sen. Colgan I do not believe that we should be naming things after anyone who is still alive and hope that it is many years before he would qualify for such an honor.
Those suggestions, however, are not taking a broad view of county history and instead are focused on the immediate past or even the present.
According to the Prince William County’s own Historical Commission, the county has two famous sons who played significant roles in the founding of the United States:
“Light-Horse Harry” Lee won a Congressional medal as General Washington’s cavalry commander during the War. Subsequently, he became Governor of Virginia and a U.S. Congressman. William Grayson was an aide-de-camp to General Washington, fought as a regimental commander, and sat on the policymaking Board of War. He later became one of the first two senators to represent the State of Virginia in the U.S. Senate.
Unless you count Leesylvania Elementary (the name Leesylvania was used to honor Lee however it does not appear that the school’s name is derived directly from the man), neither of these men have a school named after them.
Shouldn’t we be honoring at least one of them who built the very foundation that we stand on today?