The Pulse

Despite opposition, California congresswoman stands firm in bid to rename Lejeune High School to honor the late Walter B. Jones

By: - August 6, 2019 7:30 am
Lejeune High School

A California congresswoman is not deterred by the groundswell of opposition to her bid to rename Lejeune High School in honor of the late North Carolina congressman Walter Jones.

A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat who represents parts of San Mateo and San Francisco, said there are no plans to withdraw the amendment to the national defense bill to rename the school after Jones.

“It’s still headed to conference with the Senate,” the spokesperson said. “And the office has received a lot of supportive calls and emails for adding the late-Rep. Jones’ name to the school’s names as well.”

Speier, chairman of the House Armed Service Personnel Subcommittee, is the lone sponsor of the amendment to rename the school after the longtime Republican lawmaker from Eastern North Carolina who died in February.

She and Jones became friends while working on numerous national defense issues and ways to improve the lives of men and women serving in the military.

Lejeune High alumni and others who support the school are appreciative of the work Jones did serving Eastern North Carolina, but they’ve made it clear they don’t want the name of the school changed.

Alumnus Ric Logg has started an online petition to stop the proposed name change.

“We don’t want to denigrate Rep. [Walter] Jones’ memory or devalue his work, we just don’t want our school’s name changed,” Ric Logg, who attended the school from 1978-81, told Policy Watch last month.

Here are some of the comments posted after Policy Watch published a story about the proposal last month:

“There is absolutely no valid reason or logical thought that the name of the school should be changed,” Thomas Ryan wrote. “The effort to rename the school lacks a positive thought by most all who are aware of this endeavor, alumni, students, parents of students and US Marines that served on this very large base over the many years.”

Robert H. Quinter had this to say:  “[It’s] Inappropriate to memorialize a politician aboard a USMC facility. Let us remember our own and be as apolitical as possible.”

The high school of roughly 500 high school military dependents is operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity and is located on Camp Lejeune in Onslow County.

Lejeune High is beloved by the students who attended it, even those who didn’t graduate because of the transient nature of military service. For many current and former students, the school is the one thing that binds them.

The base and the high school are named in honor of Lt. Gen. John Archer Lejeune, who is widely considered the greatest Marine to wear the uniform.

So, the Lejeune name carries a lot of weight with active and retired Marines.

Lejeune High is operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA). The DoDEA operates 168 schools in Europe, the Pacific and United States.

A spokesman for the department said DoDEA is aware of the pushback to the proposed name change.

“We’re working very closely with the Marines to gather information on the issue and look at the applicable regulations,” said William Griffin, the DoDEA spokesman.

Lejeune High was founded in 1944 as Camp Lejeune High School, but was renamed Lejeune High School in 1990.

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Greg Childress
Greg Childress

Education Reporter Greg Childress covers all aspects of public education in North Carolina, including debates over school funding, curricula, privatization, and teacher pay and licensing.