The school-naming compromise struck by the Prince William School Board Wednesday was well received by family and friends of fallen firefighter Kyle Wilson and George M. Hampton, a trailblazer known for his decades of service to the community.
In a surprise move – aimed at diffusing what had become an emotional and racially-charged debate, the board voted unanimously to name a new elementary school for Wilson and rename Mills E. Godwin Middle School for Hampton.
The idea was proposed by school board member Justin Wilk, Potomac, and seconded by Diane Raulston, who represents the Neabsco magisterial district, which includes Godwin Middle.
The compromise was met with palpable relief by a board room packed with people, including more than 40 who spoke during a nearly three-hour citizen’s comment time to lobby the board to name the new elementary school, formerly known as the “Ferlazzo” school, for either Wilson or Hampton.
Maybe this was a good idea, maybe not. What it seems to lack is community involvement before the current Mills Godwin Middle School will be stripped of its name.
Changing the name of this school is serious business. It should be discussed. Since name stripping has come to PWC, will we take the name of Godwin Drive away? How about other county leaders for whom buildings, schools, parks, bridges and roads have been named?
Many of them are southern, since this happens to be Virginia. Virginia has southern history. Most of its leaders were segregationists. If they weren’t then they weren’t elected. That’s just a fact.
I wish to take nothing away from Mr. Hampton. I feel he should have a school named for him. However, let’s not do it at another’s expense. Let’s discuss this proposal. Let’s have community input.
From the Mills E. Godwin Middle School website:
MILLS E. GODWIN, JR. (1914-1999)
Served 1966-1970, Democrat; 1974-1978, Republican
The only Governor elected twice by popular vote, Governor Godwin served in both houses of the General Assembly and as Lieutenant Governor. An attorney from Nansemond County
(now the City of Suffolk), Godwin instituted the first sales tax in Virginia during his first administration to invest in a newly-created Community College System. During his second term, Governor Godwin guided the revision of the State Constitution, reinstated the death penalty and reorganized the penal system.