January 6, 2023
Dear Clark and Venable Staff, Students, and Families:
Last night at the School Board meeting, the Board voted to rename both schools to reflect our community’s values.
The Board voted to change the name of Clark Elementary School to Summit Elementary School, and Venable Elementary School to Trailblazers Elementary School. These final decisions cap a review process that began in the summer of 2020. Thanks to so many of you for your thoughtful input. A timeline for making the changes has not been finalized, but we know that the names will not be changed until at least August 2023.
The name Summit Elementary refers to the school’s mountain views; it is also meant to encourage students to both reach new heights and consider themselves “a gathering of leaders,” touching on three meanings of the word summit. The name Clark was for Gen. George Rogers Clark, a Revolutionary War leader who also enslaved people and led in the genocide against Native Americans.
The name Trailblazers Elementary honors the Charlottesville 12, the students who first desegregated Venable Elementary and Lane High School, as well as their parents and other early desegregation trailblazers in Charlottesville Schools. The name is also an invitation to current students to continue blazing new trails today. The name Venable was for Col. Charles S. Venable, a member of the Confederate Army and math professor at the University of Virginia who perpetuated damaging myths about slavery throughout his life.
We will keep in touch about when we will officially make the changes. The earliest date would be August 2023, but if there are decisions about additional schools’ name changes this spring, the division may make all name changes at once, perhaps in August 2024.
Division leaders will work closely with school leaders to make these changes as smooth as possible.
The Naming of Facilities Committee will now turn its attention to Burnley-Moran and Johnson Elementaries. Your opinions on those two schools will be welcomed; stay tuned for a survey and community forum.
For more information about Clark, Venable, and the process itself, please visit: http://charlottesvilleschools.org/school-names/