More than 5,000 Duval County students are going back to newly named schools

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It’s been a busy first day of school in Duval County!

Beyond updated health protocols, one major change greeted nearly 5,000 students: new school names.

Although, the top priority for thousands of students and parents across Duval County was showing up for the first day of school on time.

”I’m tired,” 11th grader Alexandria Scarlett admitted as she was getting ready to start her day at Riverside High School.”

“She’s had the whole summer off, and now she’s tired!” mother Julie Scarlett jokingly interjected.

Despite the early wake-up call, the excitement could still be felt all around.

”She’s ready, we’re ready,” Julie said, pointing at Alexandria. ”I woke her up.”

“It was awesome,” Alexandria added.

“See there? Even though she’s tired, she’s ready to learn!” Julie teased.

Meanwhile, Christopher Crockrel, a sixth-grader at Charger Academy, was getting acquainted with his new environment, saying, “This my first time at this school.”

Myla Williams, a first-grader at Hidden Oaks Academy, told Action News Jax she was looking forward to class, saying, “I wanna learn.”

Flor Estenia was walking with her first-grade son to Hidden Oaks Elementary, and he exclaimed in Spanish, “I want to make friends, I want to play, and I want to read books!”

Starting Tuesday, all these kids will be doing their learning under a new name.

Their schools: Riverside High School, Hidden Oaks Elementary School, and Charger Academy are three out of six schools in Duval County that got rid of the confederate figure in its title.

Here is a full list of those schools with new names:

  • Joseph Finegan Elementary School is now Anchor Academy.
  • Stonewall Jackson Elementary is now Hidden Oaks Elementary
  • Jefferson Davis Middle School is now Charger Academy.
  • Kirby Smith Middle is now Springfield Middle School
  • Jeb Stuart Middle is now Westside Middle School.
  • Robert E. Lee High School is now Riverside High School.

”It’s good, I like it,” Estenia said in Spanish when asked what she thought of the name change to her son’s elementary school.”

“[The new name is] more family-friendly, more with the times that we’re currently in,” Myla’s mother Brittani Williams said.”

“I think it’s a good change, off to a positive start,” said Octavia Myers, Christopher’s mother.

This won’t be a sweeping change, however. Duval County Public Schools still needs $51,005 to finish the entire name-changing process.

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund is overseeing the grants and donations going towards the renaming process.

The nonprofit is working hard to avoid using taxpayer money, so it hopes a donation-match campaign through Vystar Credit Union will fill that remaining gap.

Also, Riverside High School students will still be nicknamed “The Generals,” reminiscent of General Robert E. Lee. However, a revised school logo depicts a star.

Sonya Duke-Bolden, a spokesperson for Duval County Public Schools, says while this logo represents a five-star general, it more broadly stands for student success.

”The use of the stars will allow the school to define what a five-star general represents in terms of student accomplishment,” she said in a statement to Action News Jax.

Duke-Bolden also confirmed no human representation of the logo is planned.

But beyond the signage, the focus for these families is on what’s happening inside the classroom.

“They’re coming to learn every day, whether it’s Lee or Riverside, right?” Julie said, looking at her daughter, Alexandria. “That’s what we come here for,” she smiled.