The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

June 15, 2009

New school: Rosa Parks

MANKATO — The Mankato Area School Board decided against tradition Monday.

But that’s what Rosa Parks was all about.

In a split vote, the board decided to name the school district’s new $21 million east-side elementary after the civil rights activist who famously refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger.

School signage and stationary will be ordered soon bearing the name of the new school: Rosa Parks Elementary School.

According to online records from the state and federal education departments, Mankato is the first school district in Minnesota to name a facility after the first woman to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. Including Mankato, there are just 18 schools nationwide named after Rosa Parks.

“For me, Rosa speaks about all diversity, not just race,” said board member Jodi Sapp after the meeting. “How much guts did it take to do what she did? It’s such a neat message to send: That it doesn’t have to be this way.”

After several weeks of gathering public feedback, the new schools’ naming committee forwarded two names to the School Board for consideration last week. The other name was Adams Elementary, in honor of both John and Abigail Adams for their efforts in establishing this country. Adams was the top preference in the public poll.

During Monday’s meeting, board members held a lengthy discussion which focused largely on the volume of public comments supporting one of two ideas: continuing with the district’s tradition of naming elementaries after presidents or honoring diversity.

Following the discussion, Renee DeGoey submitted a motion in favor of Adams Elementary, saying, “I think we need to honor the public when we ask for an opinion. ... And I’m a traditionalist, too. I really like the presidential tradition.”

That motion, however, was defeated with only Tom Rekstein joining DeGoey in the affirmative.

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