Southerner’s name endorsement may silence student voices

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Charlotte Spears

Tech High and Boys High combined in 1947 to become Henry W. Grady High School.

Mario Herrera, Teacher

Dear Editorial Board

I am disappointed in the recent opinion of the Editorial Board of the Southerner regarding Grady HS’s name change. Not because of its advocacy of a particular individual, but because the actions of our student newspaper may, in effect, silence the voices of many if not most Grady students. Let me explain. 

The naming committee appointed by the APS Board of Education extended the deadline for the renaming of our school in order to encourage input from students. They extended the deadline twice, actually. So many teachers are currently discussing the name change in their classes. In my Speech/Forensic classes, for example, we are gearing up for a debate centered on the name change. I intended to reach out to other teachers and organizations and plan community meetings for the entire school so the student body as a whole could be involved. This idea and process was mentioned at a previous naming committee meeting. But now it seems those internal Grady HS meetings are unnecessary because “the voice” of Grady HS, the Southerner, has already spoken. 

By doing so prematurely, students and possibly the larger community will assume that a name has been decided upon by the student body. That is simply not the case. But because of that perception students may now choose to disengage since they will believe the decision has been made. Students may choose to not use their voices because such use is unnecessary. Debates will be half-hearted since a well-respected organization has endorsed an individual on their own without the input of student body at-large.  

News organizations endorse political candidates and ideas all the time. That is not my concern. My concern is that the Southerner has circumvented a process that was extended because of the argument that student voices matter, and this simple fact was understood by the APS naming committee. The student newspaper’s action may have the opposite effect of including the totality of the student body. Students may now feel that their voice was delivered by someone other than themselves. The Southerner should have honored the process, and the extensions, granted by the APS naming committee. It was the fair thing to do. 

Thank you,
Mario Herrera
Grady HS Teacher

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