EDITORIAL: Keep the names of Southington elementary schools

EDITORIAL: Keep the names of Southington elementary schools

What’s in a school name? Well, quite a bit.

There’s a movement afoot to change the name of one of Southington’s elementary schools in order to honor the late Zaya Oshana Sr. for his long and distinguished career in local education. Sounds like a fine idea.

Except that lots of people would prefer to keep the names those schools have held for years, even generations: Flanders, South End, Plantsville. 

This not mere nostalgia — it also involves a sense of preserving and honoring history in an era that seems to show little respect for the past, with local place names tending to fade away over the years.

Modern technology wants us to live in ZIP Codes, not communities. Mixville (in Cheshire) and Tracy (part of Wallingford) are at risk of vanishing from memory.

Or, to give it a more modern spin, this is about branding. Why lose a brand like Plantsville?

This is more poignant when a school that’s about to be renamed was originally named for the village or borough or district it serves. Wouldn’t Plantsville lose some of its identity if Plantsville School were to become Oshana School?

Parents from Plantsville School were the largest contingent at a recent meeting of the school board’s facilities naming committee. They said the Plantsville name honors the Plant brothers, who helped establish that section of Southington, and that the school’s name helps maintain the neighborhood’s distinctive character.

“I believe in keeping history alive. Every year we seem to be losing a little bit more of Plantsville history,” said Stacey Buonanni, a Plantsville resident and teacher at the school. 

These issues came up in Wallingford a couple of years ago, when Yalesville School became Mary G. Fritz Elementary School. Just as many Yalesville residents are clear that they live in Yalesville, as opposed to Wallingford, many South Meriden residents like to emphasize their unique “village” within the Silver City.

A suggestion can be offered: Why not simply add the honoree’s name to the existing name of the school? Make it Zaya Oshana Sr. Flanders School, or Zaya Oshana Sr. South End School, or Zaya Oshana Sr. Plantsville School.

Another suggestion would be to simply find another way to give Oshana the honor he deserves.