SOUTHINGTON — Parents, teachers and students of three schools under consideration for a name change urged education board members Tuesday to preserve school names.
A board committee could recommend renaming Plantsville, South End or Flanders school after former board member Zaya Oshana Sr. Former school officials and residents brought a petition to the board to honor the town’s longest-serving Board of Education member.
Oshana was a fifth-grade teacher, vice principal and served on the school board for 34 years. He died two years ago.
Parents from Plantsville School were the largest contingent at Tuesday’s 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. “We’re finding fewer things mentioned after Plantsville... I feel a lot of children now don’t know the history of Plantsville.”
Parents also asked about the cost of a name change since the school’s name is on shirts and other items. Josh Reed, the Flanders School PTO president, said the group recently spent $3,000 on T-shirts for students. The PTO also has branded supplies, banners and signs.
“What’s going to happen if we have to rebrand all of that? What do we do?” Reed asked.
He wasn’t totally opposed to changing the school’s name but suggested it take place when a new school is built.
Several parents and students also spoke against a name change for South End School. Rachel Snow, a South End teacher, described it as a “small school with a big heart,” and wanted to keep the name that dates back to the 18th century when it was a one-room schoolhouse.
Brittany Connor, a South End parent, wanted the history of the school honored by keeping the name. She suggested Oshana be honored in another way, “maybe a playground or a gym or a library at one of the schools.”
“We really hope South End stays South End,” Connor said.
The facilities naming committee will vote on a recommendation on June 11. The full school board will vote on June 20 and a dedication ceremony is planned for September.
The petition for Oshana was started by Angelo Coppola, a former assistant superintendent, and Beecher Lajoie, a former Thalberg school principal. According to the school district’s rules, a petition is the first step to naming a school after a prominent person who worked in education and is worthy of special recognition.
Terri Carmody, school board vice chairwoman and the naming committee chairwoman, said the committee agreed that Oshana meets the district’s criteria.
Tuesday’s meeting was solely for the purpose of hearing parents, Carmody said.
Oshana’s son, Zaya Oshana Jr., a school board member, was in attendance.