The Albemarle County School Board welcomed a new name for Jack Jouett Middle School with open arms during its meeting Thursday, signing off on a recommendation to change the school’s name to Journey.
A 16-person committee made up of parents, teachers and community members suggested Journey as the school’s next name in July following a series of meetings and community surveys this summer. The division is reviewing all schools named after individuals following a 2018 directive from the School Board.
The new name will take effect July 1, 2022. Four other schools have had their names reviewed with three getting new names, and the renaming wheel keeps on turning with Broadus Wood Elementary up next.
The new name for Jack Jouett reflects the journey students take during middle school, the committee said in its presentation.
“In times like this, we must move forward and embrace change so that we can continue to grow,” one student wrote to the committee. “I feel strongly that we should change the name to Journey Middle School. I started my journey in middle school and take a lot of what I have learned with me.”
Board member Jonna Alcaro said the student’s quote reinforced his feelings on the name.
“When I first heard the name, I knew it was going to grow on me,” he said.
Journey was picked from several finalists. The other options were Hope, Peace and Justice; Monacan; Katherine Johnson; and keeping Jack Jouett.
Jouett was a Revolutionary War soldier who is famous for riding 40 miles to warn members of the General Assembly who had retreated to Charlottesville that British soldiers were coming.
The committee noted in its research that Jouett bought a Kentucky farm in the late 1700s and employed enslaved labor. As many as 25 men, women and children were reported to have been enslaved by Jouett in Kentucky and Virginia during his life, according to the committee.
Although a majority of school survey respondents wanted to keep the Jack Jouett name, the committee ultimately decided that it didn’t reflect the division’s current values of equity, excellence, family and community, and wellness.
Hannah Peters, who chaired the advisory committee, told board members Thursday that the committee felt the name needed to reflect values in the school and community.
“It was vital that it was representative of students, staff and community voices, and that allowed all to be seen, and then most importantly, that a name provided safety and a welcoming environment for all that walk through the building,” Peters said.
In the community survey, 90% of respondents said the school should be named for a physical location or one that reflected a division value or a theme.
Students participated in the process via surveys, the committee, written comments and projects at the school.
“I would say the most important [and] the most fun part of this whole process was engaging students, both virtually and within our school,” Peters said.
Superintendent Matt Haas commended the committee for its work to engage students.
“I really think that you did an outstanding job of not only conducting the process through a challenging time and getting a great deal of input and a lot of in-depth conversation, but I especially appreciate in light of our values, your inclusion of student voices at the school,” he said.