New high school renamed Jasper High School

By NICOLE SMITH, Daily Mountain Eagle
Posted 6/21/16

The Jasper City Schools Board of Education voted Monday night to change the name of Walker High School to Jasper High School, effective in the fall of 2017.

“If we’re going to change, now is the time to change. The …

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New high school renamed Jasper High School

Posted

The Jasper City Schools Board of Education voted Monday night to change the name of Walker High School to Jasper High School, effective in the fall of 2017.

“If we’re going to change, now is the time to change. The opportunity is in front of us,” school board member Teresa Sherer said during discussion Monday. Her sentiments were mutual, as everyone on the board and Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson agreed on making the heavy decision to change the name of the district’s high school, ahead of the new school campus’ completion later this year.

While all board members voted in favor of the name change, there was a differing opinion on what to name the high school. Board member Willie Moore wanted Walker High School to be renamed Jasper City High School, but board majority voted to omit city in the name.

Jackson said changing the high school’s name has been discussed for years, and has been brought up in her recent visits to the Rotary and Kiwanis clubs of Jasper, among other social gatherings.

A press release from Jasper City Schools states many reasons for considering a name change, including the school district being one of few that doesn’t have a school named after the city it represents. It was also noted that people outside of Walker County do not associate Walker High School with the city of Jasper.

“Changing the name of the new school to Jasper High School was not an easy decision,” Jackson said in a press release. “The high school has had the name Walker in it since Jasper Academy burned in the early 1900s. Our board did not take this decision lightly.”

“I was opposed,” board member Walker Wilson said, recalling when he heard of the proposed name change three years ago. “As that new school building has been coming up, as everything has been changing with this downtown association, with all that Jasper is trying to rebrand and reimage itself with now, I think it’s time to do it if we’re going to do it. ... It’s the dawning of a new era with the new school coming in. It will be a rebirth for our whole system. I think it will be very beneficial moving forward to have Jasper’s name tied in to that.”

Board members and Jackson unanimously agreed that with the Jasper Main Street program, “We Can Do That” campaign and the economic and industrial growth in the city that they wanted the high school to be reflective of such innovation.

Board member Mary Beth Barber did express concern over replacing athletics uniforms, which Walker Athletics Director Jonathan Jordan said would cost around $100,000; however, Jackson noted the school’s name change will not go into effect until the fall of 2017.

Athletes will still play under the name of Walker High School in the upcoming academic year, and the Class of 2017 will graduate from Walker High School, even though they will already be having classes in the new school starting in January 2017.

“I went to Walker, and I’ll always consider myself a Walker Viking,” board member Scott Thornley said. “I feel like Jasper has some real momentum with things that are going on, in terms of community, in terms of economic development and vision. I don’t think we make a decision for what’s best for Jasper, but I do think that the City of Jasper and our school system are going to be working hand in hand. If one is going to be successful, then the other will be successful and vice versa. I’m a firm believer in calling something what it is, and this is the flagship school of the Jasper City school system. As conflicted as I am because it makes me sad in one respect, it makes me really excited on the other.”

While changing the high school’s name has been discussed for many years, Jackson said a decision to change the name or not had to be made before construction continues on the new school, as the name will be incorporated into the overall design.

She insured that the legacy of Walker High School and the many accomplishments of its graduates will not be forgotten.

“This is a very emotional decision, one that certainly has not been taken lightly,” Jackson said. “We’re not going to leave Walker High School and all the things it has accomplished and just pretend it never happened. We will find ways of honoring all of that and making it a big deal, because it is a big deal.”

She continued, “There’s a lot of good things going on in Jasper. The crown jewel, as far as I’m concerned, is our school system, and we need to claim it.”

The name change is one of many throughout the district, as a new developmental school model will be incorporated in the 2017-18 school year and West Jasper Elementary will close its doors in 2017.

Board members agreed to use the tagline “Home of the Vikings” for the new high school, and all Jasper City Schools will now have the Viking as their mascot.

“I am confident the results will be worth the effort, and we will meet these challenges to succeed,” Jackson said in a press release. “We can change the way we deliver the educational product. We can consolidate the high school and junior high school. We can change the name of the high school to Jasper High School. We can continue the great tradition of excellence in Jasper City Schools. We can do that.”