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Editorial: Local School, Local Namesake, Local Pride

When the Board of Education released its four potential names for the new middle school in Clarksburg the list was… uninspiring to locals. While all four of the men on the list are deserving of such an accolade, the names did nothing to inspire the local community to embrace the new school as their own.

A school is nothing without its community. The link between school and community is vital. And the responsibility of naming a new school in an emerging community is one that requires forethought, vision, and an unwavering sense of community.

It is the community that creates the school. The principals and teachers at local schools become folk heroes in the community. Everybody remembers the principal at their middle school for many reasons, either because they were a towering figure of authority or because they were a helpful and guiding voice through those difficult years from small child to teenager. The school represents the community, and the community represents the school.

The Board of Ed put forth four possible names for the new middle school; former members of the Board of Ed Dr. Alan Cheung, Mr. James H. Daugherty, and former Superintendent of Schools Dr. Paul Vance, and Dr. Michael Doran, the late principal at Thomas Wootton High School in Rockville.

While the four names that the Board of Education submitted for nomination are all excellent suggestions, none have the same link to the community as the nomination from the 15-member community Naming Committee. The name they are championing as their top pick, Hallie Wells Middle School, speaks to the history of the community and continues to inspire.

After the death of her husband, and having no children of her own, Hallie Wells, donated 290 acres of farmland to the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission in 1981 with the intent that the land be used “as open space, for parkland, and/or recreation” in an act of unselfish generosity and community heroism. At the time the land was worth about $1 million. Consider what that land might be worth today — 35 years later.

That parkland is now Ovid Hazen Wells Recreation Park, named for Hallie Wells husband, which is home to the baseball and soccer fields where children from Clarksburg, Damascus, and all over the UpCounty area play and families gather. The park is also home to the Red Wiggler Community Farm, a sustainable farm where people with and without developmental disabilities come together to work, learn and grow healthy food. Clearly, Hallie Wells’ actions hav