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Committee floats new names for Charlottesville's Burnley-Moran, Johnson schools

A committee has proposed new names for Charlottesville’s Burnley-Moran and Johnson elementary schools.

The group has suggested Burnley-Moran be renamed Blue Mountain Elementary, for the nearby mountain range, and Johnson be renamed Cherry Avenue Elementary, for the street it sits on.

“We want to do this in a way that does not disparage anybody,” Charlottesville School Board Member Sherry Kraft said at the Thursday night meeting where the names were presented.

Burnley-Moran and Johnson are the second pair of schools to undergo the name review process as the Charlottesville school division proceeds with its plan to review every school name based on modern standards and values.

In January, Clark Elementary was renamed Summit and Venable Elementary was renamed Trailblazers.

During the review, the renaming committee considers whether a school needs to have its name changed and consults with students, staff and each school’s community to come up with a new name.

For Burnley-Moran, 61% of respondents to a January community survey expressed some level of support for changing the school’s name. Changing Johnson’s name received less support: 50% of survey respondents said the name should change, while 30% said it should not.

Sarepta Moran, one half of Burnley-Moran, was one of the first two women to lead a Charlottesville school, having served as the principal of Venable Elementary. She was also an active member in the Albemarle chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.

Carrie Burnley, the other half, was also among the first female leaders of a Charlottesville school, serving as principal of the former McGuffey School. Burnley was also a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. As principal of McGuffey, she invited students to decorate the since-removed statues of Confederate generals in downtown Charlottesville.

Johnson Elementary was named after James G. Johnson, who served as the superintendent of city schools from 1909 until 1946, while the division was racially segregated.

Chuck Moran, a descendant of Sarepta Moran, said he didn’t like how the survey described some of United Daughters of the Confederacy’s activities.

The group – founded to “tell of the glorious fight against the greatest odds a nation ever faced, that their hallowed memory should never die” – helped promote the “Lost Cause” myth that the Civil War was not fought over slavery.

“I don’t think schools should be named after anybody,” city School Board Member Lashundra Bryson Morsberger said on Thursday. “Everyone has problematic things in their past.”

The school board is expected to vote on new names for Burnley-Moran and Johnson on April 13.


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