Regional School Unit 5 directors will discuss the results of a community survey on changing Freeport High School’s name on Dec. 14, and go from there, according to Superintendent Becky Foley.
Foley spoke during a question-and-answer session prior to the school board meeting held Nov. 9, where most of the sentiment expressed was against a name change.
RSU 5 has made the surveys available to residents of Durham, Freeport and Pownal via email, on the RSU 5 website and on paper printouts at the three town offices.
The possibility of a name change is part of the Unity & Pride Project that RSU 5 directors are studying. The questionnaire points out that it would cost up to $68,000 for new painting, uniform replacement and new signage. There are five boxes to check on each question, ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”
Foley said that now is the time to conduct the study, because of the $14.6 million renovation of Freeport High. A new school sign will be up by next September, and the school board wants to make sure a decision on the school’s name is ahead of that process.
“We really felt this would be the ideal time,” Foley said.
About 40 people attended the question-and-answer session in the high school library. Most who spoke were against a name change, though that doesn’t necessarily reflect the outcome of the survey.
“I have heard some feedback that at least some discussion is worth it,” said Michelle Ritcheson of Durham, the school board chairwoman.
David Intraversato of Freeport asked from the audience why a name change would build unity and pride, instead of having the opposite effect. Intraversato said that changing the name of the high school could be disruptive. Student activities are good examples of unifying elements within a school system, he said.
Freeport High alumna Jen Maneikis of Freeport said she is “totally opposed” to the idea. The name “Freeport High School” brings recognition, and it’s a “pride thing,” Maneikis said.
Marlene Barry of Freeport also is worried.
“I’m so concerned about this issue becoming something that’s going to rock our boats,” Barry said.
Pat Palmer, a former Freeport High principal, noted that names such as “Freeport Regional High School” or “Freeport Community High School” might be possibilities. In a town such as Freeport, which already has its high school named for the town, there is more concern regarding making a name change, Palmer said.
Foley responded that the names “Falcon Regional High School” and “Falcon High School,” both named for the school’s team mascot, have surfaced in the questionnaires. The name “Harraseeket High School” also has been mentioned, but that name would not represent Durham or Pownal, she said.
“The (Unity & Pride Project) committee is neutral,” Foley said. “They are not making a recommendation to change the name, but they recognize this would be the time to do it.”
Sarah Skillin Woodard of Freeport gets organized at her first Regional School Unit 5 Board of Directors meeting last Wednesday night at Freeport High School, since getting elected to the position the previous day. Woodard, who ran unopposed, sits in the same seat of her predecessor, Louise Brogan.
Superintent Becky Foley listens as Jen Maneikis of Freeport gestures as she comments on the subject of changing the name of Freeport High School, during a question-and-answer period last Wedneday night at the school library.