The Oakland school board has voted to change the name of a small school to Barack Obama Academy, reportedly the first middle school in the country to adopt the name of the nation’s 44th president.
While Obama has been in office fewer than 100 days, the 35 students at the former Alternative Learning Community public school persuaded the board Tuesday to make what they said was a historic change.
Several students prepared statements and then sat for hours Tuesday night waiting for their turn.
“They sat there 3 1/2 hours before they were allowed to speak,” said their school principal, Toni McElroy. “They carried themselves Barack-like.”
The students told the board the old name was too negative, district officials said. The students received a standing ovation at the meeting after the unanimous vote.
“These are students that people have written off,” McElroy said. “They were able to see that if you really push and if you really are motivated and consistent that you can make a change.”
The students celebrated Wednesday shouting the new name throughout the halls, the principal said.
A commenter at SFGate.com diagnoses the problem perfectly: “If the name of the school, rather than the achievement of educational excellence, is the motivating factor for the kids then the school is very much like its namesake…lots of slogans, lots of hype, no substance.”