Becoming Justice High School
The history of our school's name change.
Following the murder of nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina by a white supremacist in June 2015, a group of students approached Fairfax Fairfax County School Board member Sandy Evans with a petition to rename J.E.B. Stuart High School. J.E.B. Stuart was a Virginian who had served as a general in the Confederate Army during the American Civil War. The petition noted that students deserved a school name that represented their diversity and not Confederate history.
In February 2016, the Fairfax County School Board directed Superintendent Karen Garza to initiate community engagement in the J.E.B. Stuart High School pyramid to determine whether or not there was sufficient support from the community to change the school's name. An initial survey was conducted in the spring of that year, during which some community members voiced the desire to keep the name Stuart. Other respondents felt that public schools should not be named after Confederate soldiers, and that the school should be renamed for a person of color.
On July 28, 2016, the School Board formed an Ad Hoc Committee of students, parents, community members, alumni, and business and community leaders to weigh the pros and cons of a name change; determine the extent of support for a change; explore public-private partnerships to finance any name change; the best method for transitioning; and the best timing for such a change. Seven committee reports were submitted to the School Board in May 2017.
- Pros and Cons - Report 1
- Pros and Cons - Report 2
- Extent of Support - Report 1
- Extent of Support – Report 2
- Extent of Support – Report 3
- Public-Private Partnerships – Report 1
- Public-Private Partnerships – Report 2
On July 27, 2017, the School Board voted that the name of J.E.B. Stuart High School be changed no later than the start of the 2019 school year. Following the Board’s decision, two community meetings were held in September 2017. At the first meeting, held on September 9, the public at large were invited to suggest new names for the school. One week later, members of the Stuart High School attendance area gathered to vote on their top three choices out of more than 70 names listed for consideration. The results of the vote can be found here. Superintendent Scott Brabrand chose the top five names selected during the community vote and presented them as his recommendations to the School Board on September 28, 2017.
On October 26, 2017, the School Board voted to rename J.E.B. Stuart High School to Justice High School. The name Justice was chosen to honor three individuals for their roles in championing equal rights, inclusivity, and justice for all: Barbara Rose Johns, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and Colonel Louis G. Mendez, Jr. A new mascot, “Wolves,” was chosen by students in January 2018, and the building was rededicated on Friday, September 7, 2018.
In the News
The name change process made headlines locally and nationally. The following are a small sample of the numerous articles published about the name change.
- Falls Church News-Press – August 2, 2017: Historic Decision to Change Name
- Patch – September 28, 2017: Cost of Renaming
- NPR – October 25, 2017: School Board Set to Rename Stuart High School
- Patch – January 18, 2018: A New Mascot
- The Washington Post – August 28, 2018: Opening Day
- Fairfax Times – September 14, 2018: Rededication Ceremony