Students in one northern California school district will soon be attending Michelle Obama Elementary School.
As CNN reported, the West Contra Costa Unified School District Board announced this week that what is now known as Wilson Elementary School will soon change its name to honor the former first lady. The name change was proposed in a letter that the PTA sent to the school board and was approved after receiving overwhelming support from parents, students, and community leaders, the report noted.
The school building itself is being rebuilt for the 2020-21 school year and will reopen with a name honoring Michelle Obama. District leaders said the school’s own physical transition was a good time to reconsider its name and pick someone who had an impact on the United States. Principal Claudia Velez told CNN that the school is diverse, modern, and innovative, and works to give the children a strong future in whatever career they choose. She added that it would now be named after someone who shares those values.
Other district leaders praised the move as well, saying the change has been well-received by people in the community.
“We can see the new physical structure being built, but this name change sets high expectations for the students and staff as they enter a new era for this school and this school community,” said school board president Stephanie Hernandez-Jarvis, via The Hill. “The parents and students advocated to rename their school after Michelle Obama because they believe the values our former First Lady embodies and the educational, child-centered causes she champions, are representative of what we all aspire to nurture in our school communities.”
Hernandez-Jarvis added that the former first lady is a role model to the students there, and that school administrators strive to serve children with the “same kind of love, advocacy, and courage that she served our country.”
As the report noted, this will be the second school in the state named for the former first lady, as another elementary school in southern California had already changed its name in her honor.
Michelle Obama was active in efforts to promote health and wellness for students, including changes to bring more healthy options to school lunches. She also promoted programs in schools to plant gardens and invited students to the White House to visit a garden that she had created. Internationally, Obama worked to increase educational opportunities for girls in places they’d traditionally been denied the chance to learn.