Name change reactions

I’m proud of our new name 

By: Amera Alsarhan

Before I attended Woodrow Wilson High School, I’d heard about it from my older brother. Now a current student, I’ve noticed how diverse the school is. When I first heard about the proposal to change the name of the school, I curiously researched Woodrow Wilson and realized that he isn’t an honorable representation of our school. I was relieved and intrigued to know that the school name would change. As many people agree, I don’t think Woodrow Wilson was a good person. He was racist and problematic, which completely misrepresents our diverse high school; we prioritize a No Place For Hate initiative and overall successful and peaceful school. Learning that the new name of our school would be changed to August Wilson was pleasing because he is an important voice who spoke about the trials and tribulations of being an African American in the United States. Attending August Wilson High School will make me proud and encourage me to follow in August Wilson’s footsteps. His main goal was to encourage students to obtain a heard and unique voice while investigating specific themes such as activism, diversity, and resilience.


A missed opportunity 

By: Michele Bollinger

I welcome the long-overdue change to our school’s name, but I believe DCPS missed an uncommon opportunity to recalibrate longstanding and unhealthy dynamics surrounding education, race and class in Washington, DC. In my view, keeping the name ‘Wilson’ in any capacity is about retaining status, which is part of maintaining an unequal and racist system of gatekeeping in education. It is hard for me to see how DCPS’ choice was genuinely designed to pay tribute to August Wilson – someone whose story they have done nothing to promote and who is undoubtedly worthy of tribute (including ones greater than this.) DCPS has a long history of exploiting the language of anti-racism to advance harmful policies. This is why they would not organize any kind of open, community conversation about the name, one in which people’s voices could have been heard. They fear honest discussions about what it takes to dismantle institutions that perpetuate inequity. Of course, a name change alone can’t dismantle anything, but it could have been a chance for us to confront what we need to change on a larger scale.


Wilson’s new name is great

By: Kelly Cantarero-Flores

It was exactly 4:01 p.m. when I was startled by an email. The subject line read “DCPS Announces Proposal to Rename Woodrow Wilson HS”. The email announced the verdict of the school’s new name: award-winning playwright, August Wilson. I let out a small sigh of triumph. Previously, I had provided feedback and voted on my preference for our school’s new name options which included August Wilson as one of my options. After all, we should commemorate a person who is very profound in the Wilson community from their commonly known pieces of work like “Fences” and “Jitney”. The new name is similar to the old one which will save the school a lot of money that can be used to provide teachers and students with the educational material they need. Overall, I am delighted with this announcement.


August Wilson: just ok

By: Avery McDonald

I’m okay with Wilson being named after August Wilson. It makes sense for sports uniforms and spirit gear savings, however it seems kind of lazy. The old Wilson with a racist legacy was not a good role model…so we picked a better Wilson? I can’t help but think that this will water down the impact of having a school named after August Wilson. He deserves to have a school named after him, and not because he has the same last name as Woodrow Wilson, but because he is remarkable on his own. Even though “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” didn’t get the Academy Award, he achieved spectacular success without even having a high school diploma. Let’s hope we keep this name, so we can avoid any other convenient Wilsons if we are forced to rename our school again. The list of options is uninspiring: the troubled genius Brian Wilson (from the Beach Boys), or the needy Jo Wilson from “Grey’s Anatomy,” Myrtle Wilson the social climber from “The Great Gatsby,” or possibly even Dennis the Menace’s crabby neighbor or the volleyball who became friends with Chuck Noland in “Castaway!”