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South High students petition for stadium to carry school's name

February 27, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Students at South Hagerstown High School have signed a petition asking that their football stadium be named after the school.

About 650 students have signed, and school business manager David Hedges said he expects more signatures in the next few weeks.

Hedges and other officials say they oppose a suggestion made Tuesday during a Washington County Board of Education committee meeting that the stadium be named after the school's first head football coach, Doug Cochran. Washington County Public Schools staff and board members discussed the idea, which was offered by a community member, to name the stadium after Cochran, a former supervisor of athletics, who died in April 2007.

"I'm totally against naming the stadium after someone," said Mike Tesla, South High's athletic director. "These kids in this building have no idea who (Cochran) was. There are too many good people we could name it after ... too many people out there who deserve to have their name on the stadium. Someone is going to get hurt."

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The structure now known as School Stadium was shared by South Hagerstown and North Hagerstown high schools. Now that North High has its own stadium, there's no reason to have a generic name for the stadium at South, Hedges has said.

The schools began sharing the stadium in the 1950s. The first game at North High's new Mike Callas Stadium was played in 2006.

Hedges and Tesla suggest naming the stadium after the school, and hope to that have that change in place before the start of football season in the fall.

Hedges said some names have been mentioned, but said officials don't want students to get involved in those details yet. A next step could be naming the stadium after a significant person in the school's history, he said.

But for now, he said the best thing to do is give the school some ownership over the stadium by naming it South Hagerstown High School Stadium.

The school's Student Government Association drafted the petition to change the stadium's name. Three-quarters of the school's population is required to sign the petition before it can be submitted to the Board of Education, Hedges said.

At Tuesday's meeting, Boyd Michael, assistant superintendent for school operations, said the signatures do not have to come from the student body.

Michael said renaming the stadium after a person could lead to things such as naming school gymnasiums after people or taking donations in exchange for naming rights.

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