Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
The Prince William County School Board approved resolutions to rename Stonewall Middle School as Unity Braxton Middle School and to rename the auditorium at Unity Braxton Middle School after long-time principal John G. Miller. The School Board also approved a resolution renaming Stonewall Jackson High School as Unity Reed High School.
The School Board naming committees held two public input sessions to hear recommendations from community members. They received 775 suggestions.
Unity Braxton Middle School
Jennifer Wall, Gainesville District and member of the renaming committee, shared the difficulty of the decision due to the many great recommendations. She also explained the use of unity in the name.
“Unity represents the desire we have for our students at this time,” she said. “It means at one with others. It is oneness. This unity is possible because of Celestine and Carroll Braxton. It is my honor to support the name Unity Braxton Middle School.”
“Unity is exactly what our community needs,” said Chairman Dr. Babur Lateef, also a member of the committee.
About the Braxtons
Unity Braxton Middle School honors Celestine S. and Carroll Braxton, “two trailblazers advocating for equal rights their entire lives.” Celestine served as an educator in Prince William County Public Schools for 33 years. She taught at Antioch-Macrae Elementary School in Haymarket, during a period when Virginia schools were racially segregated. She retired in 1983 after teaching at Marsteller and Stonewall Middle Schools.
Carroll Braxton was a Master Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, and a Congressional Gold Medal Recipient. He is one of 20,000 African-American Marines from 1942-1949 who received basic training at a segregated facility, Camp Montford Point, in Jacksonville, North Carolina. He served honorably in World War II and the Korean War, serving as a combat instructor, retiring in 1980.
Miller served as the principal of Stonewall Middle School for the past 18 years and is one of the longest-tenured principals in PWCS. The resolution states that “the auditorium was Mr. Miller’s favorite place in the school because this was the center of empowering students by celebrating their successes in many ways, including quarterly and yearly awards and musical concerts.”
He has dedicated the last 20 years to this school as an assistant principal and principal. He embodies so much of what is good at this school.
“He (Miller) is loved by his school and he loves his school,” said Adele Jackson, Brentsville District and member of the naming committee.
About Arthur Reed
Unity Reed High School honors the legacy of Arthur Reed, long-time security assistant at Stonewall Jackson High School, who was beloved by students and staff.
“He (Mr. Reed) saw Stonewall students for who they were,” Jackson said. “He embodied the name unity. He loved his school and his students.”
“It is really great when we have an engaged community,” Wall said. “There are just so many great people that could be on the name of this school, but ultimately the students have an outpouring of love and respect for this African-American man, Mr. Reed, a man who is the embodiment of the school. He had a huge impact within the school community.”
The resolution said that “the name ‘Arthur Reed’ reflects a lifelong legacy and dedication to education in Prince William County, representing leadership, respect, pride, strength, and perseverance.”
“This change should have happened long ago. This is a result of a grassroots effort of community members,” Lateef said. “There were a lot of things said about the importance of making this change… this is something I am very proud to be a part of. Mr. Reed was held in such high regard by the students and it was overwhelming the amount of support that he received.”
The resolution also recognizes that Arthur Reed was the clear favorite amongst the Stonewall Jackson community for renaming of the school. Furthermore, the resolution recognizes the fact that a school’s name should bring diverse communities together and unite them under a common vision and ideal.
The School Division will work with the building principals on next steps in the renaming process.