Lexington, Ky. – Names for two new Lexington schools under construction are steeped in the area’s history.
If approved by the Fayette County Board of Education on Dec. 14, the school under construction at 2550 Georgetown Road would be Coventry Oak Elementary, and the one being built at 1150 Passage Mound Way would be Garrett Morgan Elementary. “This is such an exciting time in our district,” said school board vice chair Melissa Bacon. “The committees did tremendous research, and their recommendations reflect the valued history of our entire community.”
Principals for each of the new schools led separate committees of parents, district staff, and community members who gathered suggestions online and in writing, researched nominations submitted, and made a final recommendation for the board.
Under Fayette County school board policy, new schools must meet the following guidelines:
- A name that is in use now and describes a geographical area of Lexington/Fayette County.
- The name of a prominent deceased person who has contributed to the history and/or progress of the Lexington/Fayette County area, such as a name that has been famous in the history of Lexington/Fayette County or the name of a prominent national figure.
“I asked the committee to keep our students in focus and select a name that they would wear with pride,” said Shamiah Ford, principal of the school under construction off Georgetown Road. “We also wanted the name to incorporate the history of the area, have significant meaning to the community in the area we will serve, and be welcoming and inviting.”
Coventry Oak blends two important neighborhoods in northwest Lexington – Coventry and Oakwood. The school is being built inside Coventry subdivision, which is one of the newest neighborhoods it will serve. Students from the Oakwood area, off Georgetown Road, will also attend. When established in 1964, Oakwood became only the second community where African-American residents of Lexington could purchase a home.
“Hard work and education were very important to the community of Oakwood,” Ford said, sharing the following quote from a 2010 article on a reunion for former residents: “There was just no tolerance for not achieving.” “That perfectly captures the sentiment of my vision for Coventry Oak,” Ford said. “I want this to be a school of opportunity that prepares young scholars for success.”
While Coventry Oak meets the board requirement of geographical significance, Garrett Morgan would be named for an individual of historical prominence.
“Our committee was looking for a name that would capture the mission and vision for the school, which is to establish a foundation for innovative learning for all students,” said Sarah Woodford, principal of the school being built east of I-75 off Polo Club Boulevard in the Hamburg area.
Garrett Morgan, the son of former slaves, was a Kentucky native born in 1877 in Paris. He created and patented several inventions, including an early model respirator credited for saving the lives of rescuers during a bridge collapse in Ohio. His most notable invention is still in use today: the current model of the traffic light, which incorporates a yellow warning signal. “Garrett Morgan not only represents our great state as a scientist, but will also inspire our school community to embody and reflect his creativity, diligence and inventiveness,” Woodford said.
The process was similar in naming both schools. Each committee received more than 200 suggestions, narrowed the list to six top contenders, researched the finalists, and reached consensus on a recommendation.
Members of the committee for Coventry Oak included Shevawn Akers, Schuronda Morton, Chris Phillips, Edwina Smith, and Roanette Wilder. Members of the committee for Garrett Morgan included Karen Billings, Christopher Dotson, Alex McConnell, Jimmy Meadows, Schuronda Morton, John Price, and Kimberly Ross-Brown.
FCPS is also building a sixth high school, on Winchester Road; it is scheduled to open in August 2017. The naming process for that school is likely to begin sometime in the fall of 2016.