Atlanta committee picks top 3 choices to rename Brown Middle School

Three suggestions made a short-list to rename Joseph Emerson Brown Middle School.

A committee appointed by the Atlanta school board chairman narrowed down a list of dozens of proposed new names on Wednesday to just three.

They are: West End Renaissance Academy of Excellence, West End Leadership & Innovation Academy and Herman J. Russell Leadership Academy of STEM & Innovation.

The two location-based names reference the school’s prominent place in Atlanta’s West End. Russell was a real estate entrepreneur and noted Atlanta philanthropist who died in 2014.

The school’s name currently pays tribute to the secessionist Georgia governor who opposed slavery’s abolition. The committee announced last month that they believed the school should be renamed and then turned to the work of coming up with a recommendation for a replacement.

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Wendy Wilson, a parent who serves on the committee, said she favored the location-based names.

“Looking at the list of names, what really stood out and were actually recommended by my kids were names that were reflective of the community, which were associated with West End or southwest Atlanta,” she told fellow committee members.

The name honoring Russell received the most support in a survey of the school’s faculty and staff, said principal Tiauna Crooms. Employees also placed the two West End names among their top five picks.

Those West End names also made the top five list in a survey of students. But the students' No. 1 choice was Chadwick Boseman Leadership Academy. Boseman, the actor touted for his work in “Black Panther,” died earlier this year.

Atlanta Public Schools' policy requires someone to have been deceased for five years before a building is named after them. That restriction can only be waived by a unanimous board vote.

The naming committee will meet on Nov. 18 to hear public input and potentially decide on a name to recommend to the school board, which must approve any change.