To the Editor:
When community members called for the renaming of Haight Elementary School because of the racist actions of its namesake, Henry Huntly Haight, some teachers and residents voiced concern that changing the name would “erase history.” The former Haight School Renaming Committee responded by committing to creating a legacy project to find ways to honor the experiences and nostalgia of former students and staff, while also explaining the need to rename the school.
According to the Haight School Legacy Committee, a group of parents at the now-named Love Elementary School who were involved in the renaming process, both the purpose of the renaming and the community engagement process should be acknowledged and celebrated. Parents are raising money and collecting artifacts to create a permanent display at the school which they hope will educate current and future students, staff, and community members on how and why the school name changed from Haight to Love.
The renaming process started in December 2017 when I contacted the school’s Principal and Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and informed them of former Governor Haight’s anti-Black and anti-Asian words and actions. In 2018, parents started a petition to create a School Renaming Committee. The Committee developed a civic engagement process to identify potential names. The school held an election in fall 2018, and students, teachers, and families voted on the top names and finally on whether the name Love would replace Haight. In 2019, the Board of Education voted to rename Haight to Love Elementary School.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 interrupted Love’s first year, but the commitment of parents involved in the renaming process to preserve and display history has not wavered.
“We hope that the display will tell the story of Haight School and Love Elementary and provide past, current, and future students, staff, and families with a framework for understanding why and how the school was renamed,” Rochelle Lokting said. Lokting is a Love parent who served on the Haight Renaming Committee. She is joined by Love parent and PTA liaison Rachel Lopez Metzger, and Love parent and advocate Puja Batail.
The Legacy Committee is currently raising funds to purchase a display case that will exhibit articles of the school’s history, the renaming process, and emphasize student’s voices in the process. In the fall of 2021, Love teachers voted to place the display in the school’s Multipurpose Room. The Legacy Committee reformed earlier this year to complete the project.
The display case will include memorabilia such as old photographs of the school and students, information about the name-change voting process, ballots, and voter pamphlets. Excerpts from writings by students during an essay contest will also be included. All of the essays will be placed in a binder to be housed in the school’s Multimedia Room.
To prepare the display case by next spring, the Legacy Committee launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $3,000. The Committee is also seeking materials for the Legacy Display. Donations not considered may be photographed/scanned and placed on the Love website, donated to the Alameda Museum, or returned.
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