Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) was awarded a Silver Prize in the National School Boards Association (NSBA) Magna Awards program for the campaign to rename two schools in the 2020-21 school year, known as The Identity Project. ACPS is one of five schools in the 5,000-20,000 student-enrollment category to be recognized with a Silver Prize.
NSBA’s Magna Awards program recognizes school district innovation and creativity in helping increase student achievement. The 2022 awards program put the focus on equity in education as a means of breaking down barriers to learning. It recognized programs that remove barriers to achievement for vulnerable or underserved students based on race, ethnicity, gender, special needs, geography or socioeconomic status.
ACPS launched the Identity Project as a robust student and community engagement process to explore the division’s history, present and future and replace the names of two schools that were intrinsically linked to Alexandria’s racist past. In keeping with a unanimous School Board vote, the new names took effect on July 1, 2021, when T.C. Williams High School became Alexandria City High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School became Naomi L. Brooks Elementary School. The Identity Project also received a 2021 Gold Medallion Award from the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA).
“We are excited that the ACPS Identity Project has been honored with a Magna Award,” said Alexandria City School Board Chair Meagan L. Alderton. “This recognizes the contributions from our students, families, staff and community who came together to work on this historic change. With student voices at the center, we mobilized to educate our community about the past and to chart an inclusive path for the future. We now have school names that are reflective of the values of Alexandria City Public Schools. ”
Judging for the Magna Awards took into consideration whether the program supports its school board’s equity mission and vision for the division. Sustainability of the program as well as whether it could be replicated elsewhere by school divisions with similar conditions and resources was also considered. All winning districts will be featured in the April issue of the American School Board Journal.