Central High principal proposes changing name of school

By LESLIE COLLINS
July 11, 2012

Central High School could soon have a new name.

Linda Collins, principal of Central High, is proposing the school be called Central Academy of Excellence.

In a memo sent to Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green, Collins outlined several reasons why the name Central hinders the school.

Across the U.S., she said, schools with the name of Central are viewed as “urban, low-achieving, poverty-stricken school houses.”

“Our goal is to change the negative stigma attached to Central High School,” she said.

Central High School originally received its name since it was centrally located in Kansas City, she said.

Years ago, the school excelled in academics and sports, she said. Achievements of years’ past still fill the gymnasium.

However, during the the 1980s and ’90s, the surrounding neighborhood and school changed. There were socioeconomic challenges as well as an increase in crime that began to filter into the school.

“Central’s positive reputation started to fade,” she said.

To combat the negative image, KCPS transformed the school into a Greek-themed magnet school, but it wasn’t successful, she said. Central continued to “flounder,” she added.

“When the name Central High School in Kansas City is mentioned today, most people raise their eyebrows and give a matter-of-fact look as though they can’t say anything positive about the school,” Collins said. “This negative image of Central seems to have a negative impact on the students currently enrolled at Central. In fact, many students act out as though they are fulfilling some notion of how they perceive they are supposed to misbehave.

“Some students have vocalized, ‘This is Central – what do you expect?'”

Collins hopes a new name will instill confidence back in the school and its students.

Central Academy of Excellence will help prepare students for post-secondary goals, she said. In addition, the school plans to incorporate more advanced placement courses and dual-credit courses.

“We believe students must have a sense of pride and accomplishment when leaving Central,” she said.

KCPS Board of Education members are expected to vote on the name change during their July 25 meeting. KCPS has also formed a committee to review the recommendation, and the public is invited to share their comments by emailing askthesupt@kcpublicschools.org or via facebook at KCMO School District.

KCPS Manager of Public Relations Andre Riley told Northeast News if board members approve the name change, the cost will be minimal. Prior to Collins’ proposal, KCPS had already planned to replace the sign in front of the school. Central would continue to use existing stationary before purchasing new materials. Other miscellaneous items that say “Central” will continue to be used to allow minimal disruption, he said.

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