The list is finally in: A committee narrowed down the finalists for Burnett Middle School’s new name.
School administrators received more than five hundred submissions and a committee of students, school staff and community members narrowed it down to these finalists. Voting will open on May 6.
In addition to the names, the ballot will contain a brief history or explanation for why each name was chosen.
The push to rename the middle school came 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.
According to a list obtained by San José Spotlight, the top seven contenders are:
José Manuel Gonzáles Middle School
José Manuel Gonzáles built the Peralta Adobe and was San José’s second mayor. Largely overlooked by history, Gonzáles was a member of the Apache nation. This choice would be a way of reclaiming that history while recognizing an important founding father of San Jose.
Guadalupe River Middle School
The Guadalupe River has played a central role in every phase of San José’s history. From being home to the first nations of the area to its role as life’s blood of the Valley of Heart’s Delight farming era, the Guadalupe River has been an important part of San Jose’s story.
John Heinlen Middle School
On May 4, 1887, arsonists burned down San Jose’s Chinatown in an effort to force the Chinese out. Going against the racist attitudes popular in his time, and at great risk to himself and his family, John Heinlen courageously rebuilt a new community for the Chinese. Eventually, this new community would grow into our very own Japantown.
Fred Korematsu Middle School
Fred Korematsu was a Japanese American who refused to remain silent about the Internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. This period marked a major tragedy for our Japantown neighborhood, as well as a dark period in American history. Korematsu stood up for the civil rights of all Americans when he refused to enter the internment camps and filed lawsuits arguing that the camps were unconstitutional and illegal.
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 Jose 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.
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
The community is proud to call San José our home. Both San José High and this school have International Baccalaureate (IB) programs that make them unique in the district. Many students continue the IB program offered by SJH.
UPDATE: Voting is currently open through Friday, May 10. Click the link here to cast your vote. The poll below is an informal survey to gauge reader interest.
Contact Elizabeth Barcelos at [email protected] or follow @ebarcelossj on Twitter.