School board member Joe Sokolovic is leading the charge to retitle Columbus School named after the Italian explorer whose colonization has come under fire including the nearly 60-year-old statue that was removed from Seaside Park amidst vandalism across the country.
Superintendent of Schools Michael Testani, according to a story by CT Post reporter Linda Conner Lambeck, suggested perhaps naming the school after explorer Vasco da Gama given The Hollow neighborhood’s strong Portuguese population. Then again, according to some historians, da Gama was no boy scout: da Gama looted the ship with over 400 pilgrims on board including 50 women, locked in the passengers, the owner and an ambassador from Egypt and burned them to death. They offered their wealth, which “could ransom all the Christian slaves in the Kingdom of Fez and much more” but were not spared. Da Gama looked on through the porthole and saw the women bringing up their gold and jewels and holding up their babies to beg for mercy.
This could be an intriguing name vetting process. Will a savvy historian be brought on board for character-test guidance?
Again, where does this stuff end? Simply change the name of a school or a city instead of placing history into context?
Change the name of Columbus School, change the name of the capital of the state of Ohio, change the name of the District of Columbia, change the names of dozens of other cities, towns, counties?
Where does it end?
Sokolovic said the best way to consider a name change would be to follow school board policy by appointing a renaming committee and making the school’s current name one of three options that would be submitted to the school board for consideration.
School board policy calls for appointing a naming committee when a school, a gym or an athletic field is named.
“You may want to put it out to students at the school,” Testani said during Monday’s school board meeting. “Ask them: ‘If you had to rename your school, what would you call it?’ It might be interesting to see what kids have to say.”
Since the school is in a neighborhood with a high Portuguese population, Testani said something like Vasco da Gama, a 15th Century Portuguese explorer, might be appropriate.
Full story here.