Rename Stonewall Jackson Middle School to Katherine Johnson Middle School
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In the late 1930s, Charleston High School became over-crowded so Stonewall Jackson High School was built in 1940 to accommodate the students on the West Side of Charleston. Stonewall Jackson High School became Stonewall Jackson Junior High School in 1989. A decade later, in 1999, Stonewall Jackson Junior High School became Stonewall Jackson Middle School, which it remains today.
The student population of SJMS is 44% black and 7% biracial. 72% are classified as low income. Their test scores at the school fall far below the state averages: math is at 17% and science is 18%. (https://www.greatschools.org/west-virginia/charleston/365-Stonewall-Jackson-Middle-School/#Students
Now, more than ever, the students need the inspiration to be great. There is no better time than now to rename the school after the great African American and West Virginia native, Katherine Johnson. Katherine Johnson (August 26, 1918 – February 24, 2020) was a mathematician whose calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights. During her 35-year career at NASA and its predecessor, she earned a reputation for mastering complex manual calculations and helped pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks. The space agency noted her "historical role as one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist.
In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2016, she was presented the Silver Snoopy Award by NASA astronaut Leland D. Melvin and a NASA Group Achievement Award. She was portrayed by Taraji P. Henson as a lead character in the 2016 film Hidden Figures. In 2019, Johnson was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
We need to both honor Katherine Johnson and end the glorification of Stonewall Jackson. The students of Charleston WV's West Side deserve better.
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