BY JOE OLENICK
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Next month the Lockport City School District will be putting together a committee to look at renaming North Park Junior High School.
At a meeting Wednesday, the Board of Education approved changes to a policy that creates a process to handle such proposals to rename schools and buildings.
The policy, number 7110 Naming or Renaming School Facilities, Plaques and Memorials, was approved in October. It sets up a special committee to consider such renaming requests and make a recommendation to the Board of Education. The board would have to then approve a new name with a two-thirds vote.
Superintendent Michelle T. Bradley said the committee will include Trustee Jon A. Williams and North Park Principal James Snyder, a teacher, a student and a community member. In April, district officials will figure out how to choose the other members of the committee, Bradley said. It’s expected Snyder will oversee the committee.
“After the break we’ll meet with Jim,” she said.
The panel’s research and recommendation should be complete in about six months, Bradley said.
About a year ago, a group of residents made a request that North Park Junior High School be renamed in honor of Aaron A. Mossell, Lockport’s most successful African-American businessman of the 19th century.
Mossell supplied bricks for a school being built across from his family’s home on High Street, then tried to send his children there rather than the school for blacks several miles away. He pressed the Lockport School Board for five years, finally succeeding in 1876. That was almost 80 years before Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court case that desegregated schools across the country.
This led to the closing of Lockport’s separate school for black children, allowing black children to attend the regular schools.
Bradley said the district has received other proposals to rename North Park, but nothing formal yet. The committee will determine a deadline for receiving proposals, she said.
Most of Lockport’s buildings are named after an individual, such as John Pound, a former Board of Education president and Washington Hunt, a governor and first Niagara County Court judge. The only two without a person’s name are Lockport High School and North Park.
North Park opened as an elementary school in 1940 on Passaic Avenue. It was a middle school until the district reorganized, moving all seventh- and eighth-graders to North Park and calling it a junior high school.Contact reporter Joe Olenick at 439-9222, ext. 6241 or follow him on Twitter @joeolenick.