New name picked for Johnston campus

Eastside Memorial High at Johnston will keep mascot, colors
By Laura Heinauer
Tuesday, August 12, 2008

After less than an hour of deliberation, Austin school trustees on Monday chose Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston Campus as the new name for the school formerly known as Albert Sidney Johnston High School.

Johnston was forced to close in and reopen as a repurposed campus this fall after repeatedly failing to meet state standards for graduation rates and on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Students will decide whether to keep the school colors and school mascot when they return. School starts Aug. 25.

The name encompassed several ideas brought by community members. Johnston was originally named after a Confederate general who was fatally wounded at the Battle of Shiloh.

Before the decision, various community groups made the case for their favorite names for the new school.

“Memorial” and “Veterans Memorial” were supported by several veterans groups while “Eastside” and “Eastside High School at the Johnston Campus” had the support of several students and the parent-teacher organization. Under state rules, the new school could not be called Johnston High School, but it was permissible to include the word “Johnston” in its name.

“It’s a name that connects us to the past and recognizes the pride of the Eastside,” school Trustee Sam Guzman said.

In the end, the trustees went for a name that seemed aimed at incorporating the two names being pushed by the community members who had been involved in the process.

“We don’t see it as much a compromise as a work in progress,” said Cynthia Valdez-Mata Jr., who is involved with the parent-teacher group. “It’s about remembering the past and improving the present.”

The district is planning a four-year, largely traditional high school this year and a campus with two separate high schools, possibly a technology and college prep programs, in 2009-10.

District officials have said Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston Campus will be used for the campus in the coming year and be incorporated in the name of both schools next year.

Copyright 2008 The Austin American-Statesman.

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