" Whats in a name? That which we call a rose would by any other name smell as sweet"
Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet Act 2 Scene ii
It was recently announced that our district's new school is to be called the Margaret "Ma" Murray Elementary Community School. The name was selected after lengthy and often spirited discussions by the board of trustees. After all, a name is important, isn't it? Shakespeare's sentiments aside, the concept that a name can really make a difference continues to spark considerable debate.
In selecting Margaret Murray as the name for the new school, the board has elected to use a person's name rather than the geographic location as an identifying label. This decision was driven in part, by the desire to add some gender equity to the names of our district's public schools. Previously, all schools in SD 60 that carried a persons name had been named after men. Selecting a new name for a school seemed an excellent opportunity to change that situation. After all, as pointed out by our new Prime Minister, it is 2016. Equal opportunity, regardless of gender is not only long overdue but entirely consistent with the values our district hopes to instil in all our students.
District naming protocols call for recognizing individuals who have made significant contributions to our community. As the founder of Fort St Johns longest running news paper Mrs Murray certainly fits that bill. Known as a strong personality who was resilient in the face of adversity and not shy about offering her opinion, Ma Murray provides modern day students with an example of how to develop and follow their dreams.
In naming the school's gathering space after Bella Yahey, the board also acknowledges important contributions made by First Nations and aboriginal women in the shaping of our community. Yahey, a long time community member was also daughter of Treaty 8 signatory Chief Attachie, and wife of Charlie Yahey, for whom Charlie Lake is named. She lends her name to the gathering space within the school, an area where all members of the community can come together to meet, share and work for the benefit of our students.
Enshrining the word "community" within a school's name may make for a longer than normal title, but the board feels strongly that the new school needs to represent a new attitude and approach to education. Strongly reflective of the personalized learning ideals expressed in the new BC Ed plan, Margaret Ma Murray Elementary Community School promises to kick off an exciting new learning experience for our district. With site preparation set to begin in June, watching the new school develop its identity will be an ongoing focus for the board and community as they consider "education matters."