September 2, 2020

Sharing Observations, Suggestion Regarding Renaming of John Witherspoon Middle School

To the Editor,

I read the letter from Libby Hicks regarding the renaming of JWMS [“Rename JWMS to Princeton Middle School to Welcome, Represent Everyone,” Mailbox, August 26], and while I largely agree with it, I have two observations and a suggestion.

First, I believe that most of her geographic, finding-the-school issues have been resolved by the advent of GPS.

As for the new name, I agree that it’s a bad idea to rename the school after anyone. How do we make a decision between Albert Einstein, Paul Robeson, Barbara Boggs Sigmund, or any of the dozen-or-more potentially deserving Princeton residents?

I absolutely prefer the custom employed when naming our elementary schools: Littlebrook, Riverside, Community Park, and Johnson Park (and Nassau Street, Valley Road, and Witherspoon Street schools in the past). They are, and were, all place names, not people names (OK, so Mr. Johnson donated the park land, but it’s still a park). Choosing John Witherspoon was an unfortunate departure from the practice of leaving people names off of the school buildings. Here’s our chance to return to that practice.

However, while I agree that the school should not be renamed after a person, I disagree with the suggestion of Princeton Middle School. PMS? Really? Sorry, but I feel like PMS will be invitingly problematic for a wide range of reasons.

My proposal, therefore, is Princeton Junior High School. It’s descriptive, traditional, and it lends itself to ease of use and recognition in conversation.  

When, and how, do we vote?

John Rounds, PHS ‘72
Eldridge Avenue, Lawrenceville

Note: The writer attended Riverside, Community Park, Valley Road, and Princeton High schools.