The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

School Formerly Known as T.C. Williams: 5 Months Later

School+Formerly+Known+as+T.C.+Williams%3A+5+Months+Later

Emily Milton

Staff Writer

On April 8th, 2021, after facing a social justice movement in the summer of 2020, the Alexandria City Public School’s School Board voted a unanimous “yes” to change the name of the only public high school in Alexandria from T.C. Williams High School to Alexandria City High School. 

Alexandria’s beloved public high school was one of three at the time of its original founding in 1965, along with George Washington High School and Francis C. Hammond High School (both currently middle schools). Parker-Gray High was the only school for black students in Alexandria up until 1964, when integration changed the school system. After many changes in grade levels and many iterations of the school, the current high school campus opened in 2008. 

T.C. Williams High School was named after Thomas Chambliss Williams, a former Superintendent for ACPS who fought against integration between the schools and has been described as a segregationist. In 2000, the film “Remember the Titans” addresses the racial divide in Alexandria while focusing on the 1971 high school football team.  

For some time, people in the Alexandria community attempted to change the high school’s name after the history of Superintendent Williams came to light. The social justice movement that arose in the summer of 2020 gave advocates a chance to do just that, along with the support of several students who, under an effort called “The Identity Project,” were attempting to do the same. 

After the name change was announced, Mark Eisenhour, the Lead Administrator for Operations and Facilities for the King Street Campus of A.C.H.S. and class of 1986 alumni, was in charge of examining the school and evaluating any signs, benches, tables, etc. that needed to be changed to reflect the new school. When asked if it has been hard to change all of the things that say the former school name, he said, “Yes, because everything is embedded.” Eisenhour discussed how several tables, chairs, and plaques needed to be updated, as they came from the old building. 

He went on to describe that while the Titan mascot and the school colors did not change, having to alter details in the four campuses –King Street, Minnie Howard, Chance for Change, and Satellite — was difficult. 

Eisenhour said, “It is okay to keep some of the stuff [apparel]. Some people want to hold onto the memories that are positive.” 

When students were asked how they felt about the name change, the responses varied from “indifferent” to “definitely beneficial.” When asked if the changing of the name really changed anything else, current senior Umeymah Hagos says, “No, just the name changed, but with everything going on in the world, it brings awareness to how things affect other people.” 

When names were solicited for the new school, some of the diverse answers were Anime High School, Ruth Bader Ginsburg High School, and Titan Community High School.  

Tess Lundgren, a current senior, responds to if she would have liked to see Alexandria City High School be named something else, by stating, “No, because there is no other person in Alexandria that has a significance to Alexandria…it reflects our sense of community.” 

All teachers interviewed for this article supported the name change and thought it was a good idea. Kelly Hester, a current Biology and International Academy teacher, states, “The name change was a great idea. The history of Alexandria hasn’t always been inclusive so I am glad we chose a name that is more inclusive, but true to who we are.” 

When asked the same question posed to students, current Sociology, Psychology, and Advanced Placement United States History teacher Taryn Morris (formally Edwards) says, “I think that the name change itself is a nice gesture, but if we don’t back it up with increased focus on equity and accountability, it doesn’t mean much. We have to decide what A.C.H.S. means to us compared to T.C.” 

And some, like A.C.H.S. alumni and current Advanced Placement World History teacher Nadia Liss said that being an alumni does not impact how they feel about the name change at all. 

This is a historic change and will reflect on Alexandria for generations to come. As we embrace our new change, we are forever the Titans. 

Photos courtesy of Elijah W. Griffin Sr. – Griffin Vision Photography

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School Formerly Known as T.C. Williams: 5 Months Later