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School named Rockland Woods

May 02, 2007|by ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - It's no longer just "the new school."

The elementary school opening in 2008 in the Westfields housing development south of Hagerstown has a name. The Washington County Board of Education voted Tuesday to name the school Rockland Woods Elementary School.

The vote was 5-1, with Board Member Bernadette M. Wagner opposed. Student member Sarah Miller also was opposed. There is one vacant seat on the board.

Committee members made three name suggestions to the board Tuesday: Rockland Woods, Antietam Valley and Chapel Woods.

Those names were selected during an April meeting.

Schools spokeswoman Carol Mowen has said the name Westfields Elementary School was eliminated as a choice because not all students at the school would be residents of the development. The school, to be built off of Sharpsburg Pike, will have capacity for about 750 students.

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Rockland Woods Elementary School was suggested to honor Frisby Tilghman, who built the Rockland estate near the school site. It also includes part of the name of a one-room school called "Chapel Woods," built in the Westfields development area in 1891.

Wagner and Miller said they would like to name the school after James W. C. Pennington, a slave on the Rockland estate and a noted abolitionist.

Wagner said that two years ago, through a minority achievement task force, a recommendation was made to acknowledge achievements of minorities in the community and celebrate diversity. Naming the school for Pennington, she said, would do that.

"He valued education before all else in his life," Wagner said.

Naming the school for Pennington was originally considered by the naming committee, but did not make the cut when the group narrowed the selections from five to three.

Several Washington County residents at Tuesday's meeting lobbied to have the new school named after Rosemary J. Burtner, an area woman and retired teacher who died recently.

Jacob Berkson told the board that Burtner was a public school teacher for more than 45 years and active in the community.

"She devoted her life to helping thousands of students in every way she could to make theirs a better world," he said.

According to a presentation Tuesday, the naming committee received nearly 800 responses, and had 18 names suggested honoring people and places not included in the five school names on the surveys.

Eighty-six percent of those who gave feedback were in favor of names relevant to the school's location.

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