Burnett Middle School’s new name narrowed down to three finalists

After a week of voting, the list of new names for Burnett Middle School is down from seven to the top three: Ohlone Middle School, San José Middle School and Sofia Mendoza Middle School.

Input from students, staff and community members was weighed by the Burnett name change committee. Each name was ranked by how many votes it received from the three groups, with seven points going to the name that got the most points from a group to one point for the least number of votes. Adding the points each name got from the three groups led to a final score.

San Jose Unified School District officials began a process to rename the middle school earlier this year following public outcry over racist actions and policies of the school’s namesake, California’s first governor Peter Burnett. His policies included the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, among others.

As a reminder, these are the descriptions included on the ballot for each name:

Ohlone Middle School 

This name honors the Native American people who were the original inhabitants of this area, and on whose land this school now stands. By choosing this name, we will be teaching students about the Ohlone people while honoring their historical importance in the Santa Clara Valley.

San José Middle School

Our community is proud to call San José our home. Both San José High and our school have International Baccalaureate (IB) programs that make them unique in the district. Many of our students continue the IB program offered by SJH.

Sofia Mendoza Middle School

Sofia Mendoza was an important leader fighting for the rights of the Mexican-American community. She worked to confront the inequality and injustice faced by Latinos in San José schools and the justice system. When her complaints were ignored, she and others organized and led a walkout at Roosevelt Junior High to demand fair treatment for all students.

The three finalists will be submitted to the San Jose Unified board at its June 13 meeting.

Contact Elizabeth Barcelos at ebarcelossj@gmail.com or follow @ebarcelossj on Twitter.

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