School without a name

March 29, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - The choices for the name of a new elementary school in the Westfields community south of Hagerstown have been narrowed to five, including a name that would honor a slave who lived on an estate near the school site.

The potential names are Antietam Creek Elementary School, Chapel Woods Elementary School, James W. C. Pennington Elementary School, Rockland Elementary School and Rockland Woods Elementary School, according to Washington County Public Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen.

Two of the names will be eliminated before the Washington County Board of Education receives a recommendation at its May 1 business meeting.

A naming committee is asking for public input on the five selections, and also for additional names for the school expected to open in 2008.


A Board of Education policy states that schools and facilities may be named for the geographical area where they are built or after people who have made significant contributions to education in the community.

Mowen said the name Westfields Elementary School was eliminated as a choice because not all students would be residents of the development.

The school to be built off of Sharpsburg Pike will have capacity for about 750 students.

The naming committee, which includes parents, students, teachers and administrative staff, reviewed historical and geographical information about the school site and met throughout the month, said Shulamit Finkelstein, executive assistant for strategic planning and board and community relations. She was co-chair of the committee with Evelyn Williams, acting supervisor of secondary social studies.

Antietam Creek

Antietam Creek Elementary School was suggested because the school will be close to Antietam Creek and Antietam National Battlefield and would "commemorate the geography and history of the area," committee members said.

Chapel Woods

Chapel Woods Elementary School is being considered as the school's name because a one-room school called "Chapel Woods" was built in the Westfields development area in 1891. The school on College Road was torn down in 1960, according to the committee's research.

Finkelstein said there are people still living who attended Chapel Woods.

James W. C. Pennington

James W. C. Pennington Elementary School would be named for a slave who lived on the Rockland estate, which is near the elementary school site. The estate was owned by James Tilghman, Mowen said. While a slave, Pennington's name was Jim Pembroke, but he changed his name after escaping from the estate in 1827.

Pennington worked after his escape to abolish slavery, the committee said.

"Naming an elementary school after this abolitionist would provide a direct connection to the history of the United States and Washington County for students to study," the committee said.


The committee chose Rockland Elementary School as a possible name, saying it would honor Frisby Tilghman, who built the estate where Pennington was a slave. Tilghman also advocated for the people's voice in government and believed that education was important, the committee said. He established the Hagerstown Academy, the Agricultural Society and a library.

Rockland Woods

Rockland Woods Elementary School is a name that combines Rockland and Chapel Woods and was recommended because it honors the history of the area and the former school.

The committee said there is an existing house in the area surrounding Westfields with a sign that reads, "Rockland," and the main street into the Westfields development is Rockland Drive.

Williams said the process of selecting possible names for the school has been "interesting," and that the committee welcomes public feedback.

Mowen said that about 10 responses have been received so far, mostly from naming committee members and Washington County Public Schools staff.

The committee will narrow the choices to three during a meeting in April.

The school without a name

The name of new elementary school in the Westfields community has been narrowed to the following choices:

· Antietam Creek Elementary School

· Chapel Woods Elementary School

· James W.C. Pennington Elementary School

· Rockland Elementary School

· Rockland Woods Elementary School

To cast your vote, go to to access the survey, send your comments to or call 301-766-2985 to receive a printed survey.

The Herald-Mail Articles