Students want to rename Boulder High to Barack Obama High School

I heard on the local news last night that several Boulder High students have put forward a proposal to rename the school to Barack Obama High School to honor him being elected president. I must admit that “Obama High” does have kind of a ring to it, but I don’t like the idea. One of the comments read on the news said that Obama has only been president for a few weeks, and we should wait and see if he is successful before naming anything after him. Good idea. Personally I am attached to the name Boulder High. I graduated from there many years ago. I don’t talk about my high school experience much, but I would feel odd talking about “Obama High” at this point, because I’ve always thought of it as “Boulder High”. If it were renamed I would feel much the same way as sports fans do about the name “Invesco Field”, preferring the old “Mile High Stadium”.

To me the school is an institution of this town, not of one man. And we should consider that Boulder High was not renamed after other significant figures that were beloved in this town, such as President Kennedy, or Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter who graduated from Boulder High and went to C.U. Let’s have some patience on this matter. I think it would be better to wait some time after Obama is out of office before taking up such a question. I realize that this will mean the current advocates of the name change will be gone from Boulder High by then, but I think that would be best. Names mean a lot to people and it would only be in hindsight that we could get a clear view of whether Obama personifies something special that we want to associate with the high school.

Edit 2/13/09: The Daily Camera reported yesterday that the students who were organizing the effort to change the name of Boulder High, a group named “Student Worker”, have decided not to pursue it after a lot of opposition was voiced about the idea. Sounds good to me. The leader of the group said that people got the wrong impression about how far along they were in the process. It sounded like they hadn’t even discussed it with any school officials, and it definitely sounded like they hadn’t discussed this with the student body (however they would do that). They just made their announcement to the press. They said yesterday that it was just a proposal and it wasn’t an effort to force this on anybody. I think this is a case of some overeager students assuming a bit too much about the sentiments of fellow students and alumni. They said they expected people to laugh at the proposal and not take it seriously. What they did not understand was that when they went to the media that raised its level of legitimacy as an issue in the minds of a lot of people, because people figure that the media is not going to waste time with badly organized efforts or goofy proposals. It’s impressive they even got the media to pay attention to this. I know a bit of what it’s like to try to get the attention of newspapers and TV news outlets. It’s not always easy.

There was video on the Daily Camera website of a press conference Student Worker held at Boulder High. The leader of the group went on at length explaining their decision, and talking about the opposition to the idea. Just a little nit, but I think this could’ve been shortened to a brief statement. I noticed at the end of the clip a woman by the name of Cynthia Scott gave a brief word of encouragement to the students, saying that their activism was great, and she liked that they engaged the community in an issue. I did a little search and apparently she’s a parent of a Boulder High student. This does concern me a bit, and this is only a suspicion I have, because I wonder if these students were egged into this by their parents or a few adults in the school. The representative for Student Worker who did most of the talking seemed very comfortable in front of the cameras, but I wonder about the two girls. They didn’t say much. Contrary to the appearance of all three, they are still just kids. I guess what I’d worry about is overexposure. Are high school students old enough to be getting this sort of media exposure and scrutiny? I know that there have been teen stars for years who have had much more exposure than this, but if you look at how their lives turned out not all of them are rosy. It takes a healthy and well developed sense of self to be able to take it that much. Not to say that this experience is the same thing, but I was struck by the adult encouragement. Would Ms. Scott like to see these kids “engage the community” more and get more media attention about more issues? I would hope not, for their sake. Discussing issues in school, getting up before the City Council or school board to speak out on an issue is one thing. To be the leader on an issue is something else, and these students got a taste for what that’s like. Some in this community like it that the students got that experience. These students might be more wary of it after this.

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