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It's Official -- Staunton's High School Will Again Be 'Staunton High School'

In early October, the Staunton School Board voted to change the name of the city’s Robert E. Lee High School. Last night, they picked its new name. WMRA’s Andrew Jenner reports.

In a unanimous vote on Monday night, the Staunton School Board chose Staunton High School as the new name for Robert E. Lee High School. Staunton High was the winner of five options in an online community poll that ran for several weeks in October, when the school board originally voted to remove the Confederate general’s name from the high school. That decision followed more than a year of formal deliberation over the matter. In his motion to adopt the name Staunton High School, vice-chairman Robert Boyle said the time has come for the school board to turn its attention to the many other issues it faces.

ROBERT BOYLE: We need to focus on the construction of the new high school, we need to encourage accreditation, we need to continue to increase salaries, we need to encourage leadership and goals of our superintendent, and we need to move on with this process. We really do.

Although the renaming has been a contentious issue in Staunton, Monday’s formal selection of the school’s new name proceeded quickly and smoothly. About 50 people attended the meeting. In a public comment period after the board’s adoption of Staunton High School, just two people addressed the name change – one for and one against. Boyle, who last month voted against changing the name, also thanked the community for its participation in the long process.

BOYLE: The school board pledges unity in spirit in moving forward in the weeks and months ahead, in support of the high school, its students, its staff and its parents.

Staunton High School isn’t technically a new name – it was actually the school’s name until 1914, when Robert E. Lee High School emerged from an earlier bout of renaming. This time around, the school board estimates that new signs, sports uniforms and other updates brought on by this name change will cost around $200,000. The new name will take effect next July 1.

Andrew Jenner is a freelance reporter based in Harrisonburg. After working as a journalist in the Shenandoah Valley for a decade, he spent three years living and reporting in Brazil, returning to Harrisonburg in the summer of 2018. Andrew has reported for TheAtlantic.com, The Washington Post, Deutsche Welle, Discover, Modern Farmer, and many others. He is a graduate of Eastern Mennonite University, has a MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Goucher College, and almost made it onto Jeopardy! a few years ago.