Ashland will begin the next school year with a new-look middle school that also has a new name.
The school board voted unanimously on Monday to change the name of Verity Middle School to Ashland Middle School. However, when the name change officially happens is still an uncertainty.
The school is currently undergoing a $11.9 million renovation that will be completed before the next school year. The middle school will begin housing sixth-graders, along with seventh- and eighth-graders it currently provides for, in two years.
“It’s an exciting time,” said Verity Principal David Greene. “We’re very, very proud of our past and excited about the new beginnings.”
The gymnasium, with the new maroon, white and gray color scheme, is targeted to be finished in mid-July, Greene said.
“My initial thoughts are we’d be Ashland Middle School to start school next year. It will impact our academic and athletic programs (with color schemes).”
As for the school mascot, that will probably be a site-based decision, said superintendent Steve Gilmore. Verity’s mascot name is the Patriots.
Gilmore said the board felt good about the name change. “The name is kind of more cohesive for the district,” he said. “We have a new high-school-size gym going in and the color combinations throughout the school. There were a lot of considerations. They (the board) thought a generic, solid Ashland Middle School is a good name, and I agree with them.”
Greene said he was going to make sure the past is properly recognized.
“We’ve been thinking about ways to honor our tradition in the main hallway,” he said. “We may put something on display with Coles, Putnam, Verity and a new jersey. We’re looking for ways to honor our tradition.”
Greene said the plaque in front of the vestibule at the school that recognizes George M. Verity and describes who he was will also remain.
“We’re very, very proud of our past,” he said. “We’re going to honor that past and embrace the newness of everything.”
Verity’s staff was surveyed about the name change and a small majority came down on the side of going with Ashland Middle School. “Ultimately, though, it was a board decision,” Greene said. “I’m excited about our new beginnings. Ashland Middle School makes sense. I see no problem with it.”
Back in February, students at Verity put together an unofficial vote on the potential name changes of the middle school. Three hundred of the 419 students voted and 74 percent voted no to changing the name.
Larry Bailey, an English teacher at Verity, had his students write persuasive letters to the school board either for or against the change. They were going to present them at a board meeting but the name change was taken off the agenda.
“Everybody involved has an opinion,” Greene said.
Gilmore, who started his career in education as a coach and teacher at Putnam Junior High School — the name of the school before it became Verity — said he would have liked the school to be named Putnam Middle School.
“But nobody asked me,” he said. “Everybody will adjust very quickly.”
MARK MAYNARD can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2648.