Thomas Marks Elementary will be renamed Wilson Elementary School.
At a board of education meeting Tuesday, Wilson Central School District board members voted on a motion to rename the K-5 school.
The name change is intended to help the transition of students from W.H. Stevenson Elementary in Ransomville, which will close in June. The two elementary schools will be merging, with approximately 200 students transitioning from Stevenson.
After a lengthy public forum, the motion was approved a unanimous vote.
“It would be nice to make it a brand new start for everyone,” board member Donald DeLisi said. “We need to make this as easy as possible on the kids.”
Changing the school name will help eliminate any “turf mentality” Thomas Marks students might have toward newcomers in September, DeLisi explained.
“We don’t want any former Stevenson students to be told ‘this is my school’,” DeLisi said. “If switching the name can ease that at all, it will be beneficial.”
Board member Amy Phillips said she thinks the name change will offer a fresh start for the school district.
“Renaming the school will show our unity as a community,” Phillips said.
Several Wilson district residents spoke out at the public forum, both for and against the name change.
“What’s in a name?” asked Andrea Emmerson, suggesting that the name of the school be changed, but the physical building’s name remain Thomas Marks.
“Having a common name will make the school more welcoming to the new children,” Emerson said. “It will represent two student bodies coming together as one.”
Anna Hanna, school secretary at Thomas Marks, said that she feels children are resilient and changing the name is unnecessary.
“The honor Thomas Marks was given by naming the school after him shouldn’t be removed just because we’re moving students there,” Hanna said, adding that changing the name of the school would be an enormous undertaking.
Dan Seider, of Ransomville, felt that it would be fair to let the children of both schools vote on whether to change the name.
“It’s a fantastic idea to let the kids decide, if its going to affect them,” Seider said.
Board member Mark Randall suggested naming two wings in the elementary school after Stevenson and Marks respectively. Action was not immediately taken on the suggestion.