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As Construction Progresses, Debate Centers On Harding Name

March 14th, 2018 · 45 Comments · Development and Zoning, Education, News and Events

With construction of a new facility to replace Harding High progressing for the next school year, the naming of the school has reemerged. Keep the name or something new? Four years ago then Mayor Bill Finch, whose administration secured property off Boston Avenue from General Electric to build a modern facility, suggested renaming the school after Barack Obama. See video above from 2014. “The president who gave us Teapot Dome, or the president who gave us Steel Point, what would you prefer?”

Finch referenced an oil scandal that consumed presidential appointees of Harding who died in office in 1923. The fallout from the scandal emerged after Harding’s death. The school opened in 1925. For many Harding graduates opposed to a name change, the school represents a nostalgic pride point in their lives, not a name sullied by reputation.

CT Post reporter Linda Conner Lambeck has more:

Naming rights take up a big chunk of time at city school board meetings these days.

A committee is already in place to recommend names for the Harding High School football field once it moves to its new location on Bond Street in the fall.

Last month, that committee was sent back to the drawing board for working too quickly.

On Monday, three more naming committees were authorized: one to consider renaming Harding itself, one to name the day care center that will be part of the new school and a third to name the basketball court across town at the renovated Central High. Not the gymnasium–which already has a name–but the actual hardwood across the floor.

Full story here.

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45 Comments so far ↓

  • John from Black Rock

    I don’t always agree with Maria, but her quote in the CT Post is on the money,

    “It’s not about (President) Harding,” Pereira said. “It’s about a deep pride. … It’s history. It is part of Bridgeport culture. I am totally opposed to changing it.”

    John Soltis Harding 1969 – It’s been a long time but my Harding pride remains as does that of virtually every Harding Grad I’ve spoken to.

    …and while I’m at it, the annual Thanksgiving day “Obama – Central game” just doesn’t sound quite right to me.

    • Ron Mackey

      John, C’mon Man, name changes of schools is nothing new in America. John most of the time I agree with you but we have seen in the past few years where certain school names have offended communities and professional sports teams. How many Washington versus Jefferson Davis schools football games are there were there is pride but Jefferson Davis offends blacks, also teams like St. Johns University calling their team the Redmen was changed to Red Storm.

    • Maria Pereira

      CT Post took a poll several years ago on renaming Warren Harding High School. Over 700 people took the poll with over 70% of respondents opposing the name change.

      Thousands upon thousands of graduates hold high school diplomas with Warren Harding High School on them. Obituaries frequently reference the time and experiences loved ones treasured while at Harding.

      Harding has a number of high achieving graduates which is part of our great history. This includes Geraldine Johnson, Wes Mathews,Charles Smith, John Bagley, the New Haven Superintendent, Carol Birks, etc.

      I am totally opposed to any name change and will fight and proposal to do so.

      • Maria Pereira

        The only schools that should be named after Obama should be charter $chools.

        His policies on public education were horrible as was his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

  • John from Black Rock

    Hey Ron, I know my position lack a certain consistency as I agree all of with your examples and I certainly have the upmost respect and admiration for President Obama. I just feel the Harding name has little or nothing to do with President Harding and more to do with Bridgeport culture and history. I guess I (just like many others) am an old Harding President who finds this proposed change hard to swallow. Heart over head or something like that.

    • Common Good

      Many people took pride in the grade schools they attended, and many of the names and buildings are gone – McKinley, Hale, Lincoln, Summerfield, Wilson and Dunningan to name a few – surprisingly Roosevelt has survived three building changes – Waltersville and Barnum remain as do Read and Columbus – but Washington is long gone – can you imagine if we had names a High School after Richard Nixon? General problem with naming in general – I think a reasonable compromise would be to retain “Presidents” – I went to Central and we were the “Hill Toppers” although the new location has no hill! I think having the name of a respected president on a new building would eliminate the many taints of the past

      • Maria Pereira

        The only schools that should be named after Obama should be charter $chools.

        His policies on public education were horrible as was his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.

        Those were all elementary schools. You don’t change the name of high schools. The school is almost 100 years old with thousands upon thousands of graduates holding diplomas with “Warren Harding High School” on them.

        • Common Good

          Sadly many of those attendees (although now probably deceased) may not have graduated from High School so those were their schools)

          Hey – my university was in Bridgeport when I graduated and somewhere along the way it moved to Fairfield.

          What you say is true but a new start is nice too – many Central graduates will say I went to the old Central – the current building is not their school – City Hall is their school

  • Common Good

    sorry – Dunnigan – bet many people don’t know where it was

  • Steven Auerbach

    I agree with Maria P. and John S comments. I completely understand as Central High Grad of 1975. However, This is not about renaming the school. This is about the future. This is about taking down an old school and building a magnificent state of the art modern facility on a different site. The pride and memories of Central Avenue will be there forever. There will be no memories from the new facility. You may forever say you went to Harding but you did not go to Harding High School on Boston Avenue. The GRAND MEMORIES FROM YESTER- YEAR DO NOT REPRESENT THE SAME MEMORIES OF RECENT GRADS THAT HAD TO ENDURE A DILAPIDATED, OUTDATED SCHOOL . Obama High School is nice but there are so many African American hero’s to choose from that have never been recognized. Change is sometimes a good thing. Rose by any other name would smell as sweet! Ansonia, Derby and Seymour are consolidating schools. They will change names. Fairfield consolidated High Schools and they changed names. In recent years, Harding has been fighting a negative image. Time to move forward. I can think of 50 African American Names that were hero’s To all communities and should be recognized. Harding had his time. I do however, completely understand those that have fond memories. Sometimes it is best to leave the past in the past! To the future !!

    • Gary Tobin

      Why African American?

      Why not a Puerto Rican?

      • Steven Auerbach

        Good point. Vietnamese or Portuguese would work for me. Hey – Schine – a Jew would work also , why not The Schine family has given hundrds of thousands to Bridgeport including UB. Cilco Terminal and Seaview Ave . We have Luis Marin and Ceasar Batalla. 2 Hipanic Schools. Jettie Tisdale and Claytor 2 African Americans . I think either a Black or Hispanic high profile hero would be an appropriate candidate representing the area.

      • Andrew C Fardy

        why not white

  • Ron Mackey

    Obama would still be the “Presidents.”

  • Lisa Parziale

    “Obama High School.!

    • Andrew C Fardy

      That would be terrible Lisa stop kissing up Name one good thing Obama did. Lets talk about Libya and lets talk about the Ambassador who along with a few Marines that died there because Hillary would no send reinforcement. (she worker for Obama) Lets talk about Obamas attorney general who gave hundreds of automatic weapons to the criminals so they (ATF) could track them, well they never retrieved all of those guns even the one used to kill a border patrolmen.
      Obama spent 8 years of doing nothing.
      I agree with JFBK there are plenty of black heros and leaders who really contributed other than Obama.
      The one thing Obama did was safe Carter from being rated the worst president ever.

  • Bob Walsh

    Trump has undone most of Obama’s legacy so I am sure he would undo his too!

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Papa Yokum High…

  • Frank Gyure

    Warren Harding is the worst President The United States has had since 1900(modern history). Donald Trump may eclipse that. I think that the name “Warren Harding” mean ZILCH to today’s students. Harding was a corrupt politician with mistresses on the side .Does this sound familiar. from now on,anyone who graduates from a Warren Harding High School will be embarrassed by the ignominy of President Warren Harding. For those of you who lack some History education…Google Teapot Dome Scandal. That will open you up to the corrupt President Warren Harding.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Sorry Obama holds the title of worst president.

      • The Bridgeport Kid

        According to who, Andy?

        • Andrew C Fardy

          Historians who note such things

          • Steven Auerbach

            Andy- that comment is just not true and historians will remember Obama fondly.

          • The Bridgeport Kid

            Andy,

            You don’t care for Barack Obama because he is black.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            Kid you are bringing out race again. I guess that when you cant compete on an intelligent level you want to throw out the race card. I am sorry that you feel inferior but that’s life. There are those that got(me) and those that don’t got (you) so live with it.Now to Obama who swept the country and became a 2 term president. The funny thing about that is that he did nothing in politics to stand out other than being black. He was a state senator from Illinois who never voted on a Bill he always voted present which is like abstaining . In the US senate he introduced no meaningful legislaation. It has nothing to do with race dumb ass.

          • The Bridgeport Kid

            The only reason you don’t like Barack Obama is because he is black. It’s not a “race card” but the simple truth. The GOP leadership in Congress want to erase his name from the history books because shiny white crackers like you can’t livewith the fact a black man was POTUS. your savior Donald Trump vowed to the trailer park trash of America he would “make America great again!” by repealing ‘Obama care’ not the Affirdable Care Act.

          • Andrew C Fardy

            There are a number of reasons and none of them have to do with race.I have nothing to do with white crackers in congress.You and others like you always fall back on race. Blacks never make mistakes its always those rotten whites that did it. Grow up you know you are the worst kind of racist out there. Always blame everyone else

  • Mojo

    *** I welcome the name change from Pres. Harding from the 1920′s to Pres. Obama from 2008 + ; especially since Obama was the first Black U.S President in History! That alone speaks historical volumes in a new world country, that was partially built on the backs & sweat of slaves. However history should never be lost completely,a plaque in the new school should recognize Pres.Harding as being the schools original first name & also some historic info. about the 29th U.S President of the United States! Names of buildings may come & go throughout the changing times, however we should never forget to mention & remember the times in history of those that were their first & why! ***

  • Jimfox

    I attended Gilbert St.

  • Ron Mackey

    Top 10 Forgettable Presidents – TIME
    29th President, 1921-23 The original Warren G is widely considered one of the country’s worst Presidents. Harding was an Ohio newspaper publisher who eventually rose to become U.S. Senator; he…

    http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1879648_1879646_1879696,00.html

  • Harvey Weintraub

    How bout one of the greatest presidents ever,Ronald Reagan High!..lol,seriously though,Bpt has/is losing it’s history as each building is torn down,or these days collapsing..Harding High needs to stay.Harding High..

  • Steven Auerbach

    I totally support Obama High School.But, as Obama is still alive, there are many that are no loner with us that deserve to be remembered . This my list.

    Obama High School

    Lewis Latimer High School
    Langston Hughes High School
    George Washington Carver High School
    Harriet Tubman High School
    Frederick McKinley Jones High School
    Katherine Johnson High School
    Mary Jackson High School
    Dorothy Vaughn High School

    I was remiss earlier and neglected to Mention Thurgood Marshall and Geraldine Johnson.. Do we even call tat school Thurgood Marshall anymore? Now High Horizon or Multi Cultural Magnet?

    Back to my list, These are only a handful of African Americans that had a huge impact on our culture or advanced our knowledge on many fronts from Science to the arts or just plain hero’s that have received very few honors in life and death. Gary Tobin this is only my opinion. No Puerto Ricans in the bunch for no reason in particular. Only one name will be chosen- How many recommendations are needed?

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Steven Auerbach Memorial High School…

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Tom Joad Memorial High School…

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