RICHMOND (CBS SF) — The West Contra Costa Unified School District unanimously voted Wednesday night to rename of one of its schools after former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Richmond’s Wilson Elementary School will soon be called Michelle Obama Elementary School.
The school’s traditional location at 42nd Street and Roosevelt Avenue in Richmond is currently being rebuilt into a state-of-the-art, 21st century facility. Students are currently using a temporary campus in El Cerrito for the time being.
The school was formerly named after Woodrow Wilson, 28th President of the United States. Wilson’s legacy has come under increased scrutiny in recent years over his administration’s race relations and segregationist policies.
Parents and students wanted to rename the school after the former First Lady of the United States and the school board considered the proposal in January. After gathering input from parents, students and community stakeholders during public meetings, the recommendation progressed forward before Wednesday’s vote.
According to the school district, the name change will make the school the first in Northern California and the second in the state to be named after Michelle Obama.
“Naming this school after Michelle Obama is a sign of the school’s rebirth,” Board President Stephanie Hernandez-Jarvis said in a statement.
“We can see the new physical structure being built, but this name change sets high expectations for the students and staff as they enter a new era for this school and this school community. The parents and students advocated to rename their school after Michelle Obama because they believe the values our former First Lady embodies and the educational, child-centered causes she champions, are representative of what we all aspire to nurture in our school communities. She is a role model for our children and we strive to serve our students with the same kind of love, advocacy, and courage that she served our country.”
“We wanted to choose someone on a global level,” Wilson PTA President Maisha Cole said. “With a new school and new learning environment, we want our children to think beyond Richmond, to think beyond California, and remind them that they can make a difference locally and globally.”
The school currently has around 430 students in grades K-6.
The new school building is expected to open in time for the 2020-21 school year under its new name, the school board said.