Goodbye Wilson, Hello Jackson-Reed

Following congressional review, name change bill in effect

Hadley Carr

Wilson High School is officially renamed Jackson-Reed High School. After years of debates, forums, and protests, the community’s efforts culminated in the name change bill going into effect on March 15.

Following the DC Council’s approval of the bill, the legislation was sent to the Mayor. While the bill did not receive the Mayor’s signature, it was not vetoed, and was then transmitted to Congress for their review period. Following the standard 30-day review period, it was returned unchanged and is now official law, changing the name of the school.

“The transition to the new name will mostly occur during the summer, but there will be a few noticeable changes within the building,” Interim Principal Gregory Bargeman said in an email update to the school community.

Bargeman is unsure of whether there will be an official ceremony. 

The cost for structural changes is expected to be covered by the DC Government through the District of Columbia Facilities and Commemorative Expressions Working Group (DC FACES). The initiative was started in 2020 by Muriel Bowser in order to review the legacy of namesakes of public buildings in DC. Jackson-Reed is the second school to be renamed in DCPS, following John Lewis Elementary, formerly named West Elementary. 

The school’s administration team is currently assessing the signs, flooring, art, and other infrastructure labeled with Wilson’s name. All changes that will require reconstruction will be completed over the summer. These changes include redoing the terrazzo floor in the atrium, the scoreboard name, the turf field, and the main gym wall. 

Currently, Bargeman and administration are working on changing branded things within their control, like the website and signatures at the end of administrative emails. 

Despite the estimate given by DC FACES, the school must work with DCPS to fund individual items, such as uniforms. While spring sports will finish this year under the Wilson name, athletes in the fall of next year are expected to compete under the name Jackson-Reed. 

The cost for all athletic uniforms is around $160,000. Bargeman suspects that the summer and winter seasons of next year could be paid for over the summer. 

The school’s mascots and colors will remain the same. However, Jackson-Reed is choosing a new tiger for the school’s logo based on a survey recently sent to the community. 

Jackson-Reed is also rebranding the academies. New designs are being created for each academy, according to Alex Wilson, Director of Hospitality and Tourism.

Throughout the name change process, parents expressed concerns that colleges would not recognize the new name. However, Coordinator of College and Career Services Elizabeth Levenson said that the school will still be identifiable through its unique College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) code. Every high school has a CEEB recognizable by colleges and the Common App, regardless of its name.

Graduation gowns and certificates will continue under the name Wilson High school because they were ordered prior to the change. •