Name for new Beach school building has a popular choice, but there’s a catch

The new Kemps Landing/Old Donation school building in Virginia Beach isn’t scheduled to open until fall 2017, but it could soon have a new name.

Kelly Hedrick, the school’s principal, presented four options Tuesday to the School Board. All include the name of former schools Superintendent Edward E. Brickell.

Brickell served from 1968-1987 and is credited with creating Virginia Beach’s gifted and talented program. In 1980 he converted Old Donation Elementary to the Old Donation Center for the Gifted and Talented. Students at Kemps Landing/Old Donation, the district’s present day gifted school, are currently housed in a temporary building while the new building is constructed.

There’s a catch to naming that new building after Brickell, however. The School Board’s bylaws prohibit buildings from being named after people. By-law 3.74 says, “It is the school board’s policy that no school shall be named after an individual.” However, it also says “exceptions may be authorized by the School Board.”

Board member Leonard Tengco expressed concern with waiving the policy.

The new school's construction is projected to be finished by Fall 2017. (Courtesy of VBSchools.com, RRMM Architects)
The new school building for Kemps Landing/Old Donation is projected to be finished by fall 2017. (Courtesy of VBSchools.com, RRMM Architects)

“My fear is that this opens up the flood gates,” he said.

Hedrick said she and her team realized the policy would be an obstacle.

“We recognize that we’re not only asking for one of these names, but we’re also asking for you to make an exception,” she said.

Other School Board members strongly supported waiving the prohibition because of Brickell’s contributions to the district. He died in June.

“With the passing of Dr. Brickell it sparked some conversation about his role in gifted education in Virginia Beach,” Hedrick said.

Many districts in Virginia don’t have schools dedicated to gifted and talented students; Virginia Beach set a precedent thanks to Brickell, she said.

“He was instrumental in starting our gifted program in Virginia Beach, and I think this is the best honor we could give him,” Board Vice Chair Beverly Anderson said.

Board member Elizabeth Taylor said she was hired as a teacher by Brickell when he was superintendent.

“I think this is a really fitting tribute to him,” she said.

Board Chairman Dan Edwards said, “I think there’s a big difference between days, weeks, months of service versus decades, and I think that’s the litmus test here.”

Hedrick said input was gathered from faculty and staff, as well as parents, community members and students before coming up with its list of recommended names.

The four options, in order of preference, according to Hedrick, are:

  • Edward E. Brickell Advanced Academic and Arts Academy
  • Edward E. Brickell Academy for Advanced Academic and Arts
  • Edward E. Brickell Center for Advanced Academics and Arts
  • Edward E. Brickell School for Advanced Academics and Arts

Edwards noted that other schools in the district are named after people, including Frank W. Cox High School, Floyd E. Kellam High School and John B. Dey Elementary School.

Tengco said he did not mean any disrespect to Brickell and his contributions, but he was concerned with the precedent that waiving the policy could set.

Deputy City Attorney Kamala Hallgren Lannetti said she also was concerned — not with this particular exception — but for future occasions when the question of naming other buildings comes up. She suggested the board draft a resolution stating explicitly why they decided to waive the policy in this instance and list the criteria they used to support their reasoning.

Edwards asked Superintendent Aaron Spence for his staff to create that resolution so the board can vote on it at its Dec. 1 meeting. The board will also vote on the name for the building at that meeting.

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