NORTH POLE, Alaska — Parents are urging the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s school board not to change the name of their children’s elementary school, although it bears the name of a strawberry farmer who was convicted of child rape in 1916.
Parents, alumni and employees of Badger Road Elementary School argued against the change before board members Monday, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (http://bit.ly/2dW1WZs).
The school is named after a major road in the community, but is also tied to the late Harry Badger.
Board member Michael O’Brien is considering bringing a motion before the board to strip the school of Badger’s name.
“I am not looking to rewrite history,” O’Brien said. “To me, there is a line somewhere. My personal belief is that a pedophile is on the other side of that line for an elementary school.”
But those in favor of keeping the name say it represents the Badger Road community, as many students come from neighborhoods near the road.
“We identify with Badger Road,” Cheri Renson said at Monday’s public meeting. “We don’t identify with the bad man who grew strawberries. I don’t understand how changing something is going to be a positive impact.”
Stephanie Thibedeau shared the same sentiment, saying the school name is more of “an area thing” than a way to honor the strawberry farmer.
“You shouldn’t change history — good, bad or ugly,” she said.
While no one spoke up when board member Tom Bartels asked if anyone was in favor of the name change, O’Brien said he has heard from people who support the move.
“There is this notion that it is never too late to do the right thing,” O’Brien said.
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com