Students, staff and community members vote on possible new school namesake that shares their humanitarian values

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John Ireland Elementary School students, staff, parents and community members headed to voting booths set up in the gym on Nov. 2 to make an important decision: what activist and upstanding humanitarian leader they think should be their school’s namesake.

Students and staff for the past two months worked to identify four possible humanitarian heroes that could serve as the school’s namesake. Under the Public School Choice 6.0 process, Ireland became an expeditionary learning campus this year with a focus on human rights.

Students get “I Voted” stickers.

The school’s current namesake is the 18th Governor of Texas who also volunteered in the Confederate Army. Principal Linda Kratzert said the school’s new focus inspired the school community to consider a new namesake.

“We looked at people who had great morals, great ethics and were human rights activists,” Kratzert said. “We are an expeditionary learning campus this year, so we want our school to be named after a leader who shares our humanitarian values and ethics.”

A student learns more about the four humanitarian heroes on the school namesake ballot.

The four possible school namesakes up for a vote were:

  • Juanita Craft, a civil rights activist who also served as a member in the Dallas City Council;
  • Sylvia Mendez, a civil rights activist and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient who played a prominent role in school desegregation;
  • Roberto Clemente, the humanitarian and first Latin American and Caribbean player inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame;
  • Katherine Johnson, the brilliant mathematician and NASA employee who played a big role in the successful launch of the first U.S. crewed spaceflights.

Each student showed up to the gym with a voter registration card and was escorted to a voting booth, where they made their selection. Parents and community members also joined in the vote, including Board of Trustees President Justin Henry.

Kratzert said that in addition to selecting their choice for a new possible school name, the process taught students about important historical figures, what it means to be a school namesake, and the democratic process.

“This has been a wonderful hands-on learning experience for our students,” Kratzert said. “We are proud of our school community for this effort.”

The Dallas ISD Board of Trustees must approve any formal school name change.

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