What’s in a name?
Proposed name change for St. Paul’s Intermediate meets with resistance from alumni
A proposal to change the name of St. Paul’s Intermediate School in Gander came as a surprise to many.
A letter addressed to parents, guardians and Gander community members was sent out Nov. 27, 2017 to inform them that a renewal committee was established to address a name change for St. Paul’s Intermediate.
Former students almost missed the announcement, which was spotted by chance on Facebook and shared.
According to the communication from the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD), the reasons are to make the school’s name consistent with Gander’s three other schools, and to eliminate confusion with other schools named St. Paul’s within the district.
“Students want the name of their school to identify them as citizens of the Town of Gander,” the letter stated. “This will make their name consistent with the three other schools in Gander.”
In addition to this communication, an automated message was sent to all current stakeholders of St. Paul’s asking for their feedback on a name change, according to minutes from a Nov. 6, 2017 school council meeting.
An email address was also set up to receive feedback, concerns and suggestions. An error in the email address has been corrected.
The Facebook page for St. Paul’s High School Alumni
buzzed with activity when this news reached social media.
Most of the posts on the “Alumni from St. Paul’s High School” page opposed the name change. This feedback was highlighted on the group’s page as encouragement for other alumni to write in.
Former student Paddy Penney had strong words for the renewal committee when he addressed the issue of having several schools named St. Paul’s within NLESD.
“This is a (falsehood), and downright misleading to anybody who has read or will read your letter,” he wrote. “There is only one other school in Newfoundland with the moniker of St. Paul’s.”
Former student Peter Soucy wrote passionately about the quality education and life experiences he received from his alma mater, St. Paul’s Intermediate.
“This is why so many of us carry such fondness for our school years in Gander,” Soucy wrote. “What’s in a name? A great deal, I would think. Especially when it is synonymous with decades of superior school achievement and morale.
“And ‘St. Paul’s’ has stood for more than this. It reflects the careful attention to (the) development of the entire individual – the ethical, compassionate, community-minded citizen so vital to the healthy functioning of any robust and optimistic society.”
Penney expressed similar sentiments.
“I will cherish those years for the rest of my life,” he wrote. “To change a name that means the world to thousands of alumni, as well as hundreds of students who currently attend is, in my mind, undiscerning.”
The Beacon reached out to the school council for comment but did not receive a response as of publication.
The proposal to change the name of St. Paul’s Intermediate is not finalized. School alumni are scheduled to meet with the school council on Jan. 15.
A survey, both online and paper, will be sent out to Gander residents to get feedback for the name change.
The email address to send feedback to the renewal committee is email@example.com.
An online petition at http://tinyurl.com/yamubg68has been set up to stop the name change.
With over 60 years of history behind its name, a proposal to rename St. Paul’s Intermediate has been put forward to prevent confusion within the school district, and in response to students who want a name that is consistent with other schools in Gander.