Dillard Elementary School

Dillard Elementary School is located at 810 Cure Drive, Madison.

EDEN — The merged, semi-year-round school in Madison officially has a new name.

The final decision came on Monday as the Rockingham County Board of Education rebranded the school which brings together New Vision School of Math, Science and Technology and John W. Dillard Elementary School as one school under one roof.

Rockingham County Schools welcomes to the system’s roster John W. Dillard Academy.

This name was the top choice from a community survey as well as a survey of students from each school.

Prior to the vote, Board Chair Amanda Bell opened the floor to discussion. Board Member Ron Price was the first to speak.

“As I mentioned before, the request was the name incorporate both the schools, the New Vision and the Dillard school, and that was a request from the parents, some of the parents, and I would propose that the school name incorporate that, Dillard New Vision Academy or something of that nature,” he said.

Board Member Virginia Hoover recommended that board select that name that received the most votes in each survey.

“I would support the results from the community survey as well as the student survey, and, in both of those surveys, the top name was John W. Dillard Academy,” Hoover said. “That is the consensus of the community and of the students and I don't think we need to go any further than that.”

Board Member Lorie McKinney also voiced support for a name derived from both schools.

“I see where they're coming from about taking the top two from both, but I have to admit I do like the word ‘New’ put in both of them where you're still combining the two schools together, the New John W. Dillard Academy or the New Dillard Academy,” she said.

Board Vice Chair Bob Wyatt moved that the board go with the majority and use the John W. Dillard Academy name with a second from Hoover.

The board voted 6-1 with McKinney the lone opposed vote.

Board members Wayne Kirkman and Brent Huss were both absent.

The district first issued a call for names in a February survey in which the Rockingham County Schools sought opinions on the merger concept.

More than 115 name proposals came through, including New Madison School of the Sciences, New Fusion, Western Rockingham Magnet Elementary, Madison-Mayodan Elementary School and New Dillard School of Math, Science and Technology.

School officials selected what they considered the most realistic options for renaming the school and posed the question again in a community poll.

All five proposed school names featured John W. Dillard’s name, honoring the well-known principal and community leader who served in the Madison area.

“There have been a lot of African American schools named after Booker T. Washington, Mr. Dunbar, Charles Drew, but when you have a building that's named after somebody who taught and gave 41-plus years in the district and you still have people who are still impacted by that, it makes it a little bit more special than even some of the national names that we see on multiple schools throughout the country,” Shotwell said at the May 21 school board work session.

Each of the five proposed named also rebranded the school as an academy, inspired by suggestions like Rockingham County STEAM Academy, Dillard STEAM Academy and New Vision Academy.

This survey yielded 1,038 responses.

John W. Dillard Academy drew in the most votes at 444 votes or 42.8 percent of total responses.

John W. Dillard STEAM Academy, the second choice, came in about 110 votes behind with 331 votes or 31.9 percent.

The STEAM name is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics, all of which would receive special focus at the school

John W. Dillard Academy of Math, Science and Arts followed with 192 votes or 18.5 percent.

John W. Dillard Community Academy received only 37 votes or 3.6 percent.

John W. Dillard Western Rockingham Academy came in last with 34 votes 3.3 percent.

Most of the respondents on this survey were either in the parents/grandparents category, totaling 408 votes, or members of the community, totaling 412 votes.

Rockingham County Schools staff also participated, casting 117 votes.

Students responded with 126 votes.

After reviewing the survey results on May 7, the school board asked for another survey, this time of the students from each school.

The student survey yielded 171 responses from fourth and fifth graders. Students could vote on one of the five proposed names or propose their own.   

John W. Dillard Academy again topped the survey with 48 votes or 28.1 percent.  

New Dillard followed close behind with 45 votes or 26.3 percent.  

John W. Dillard of STEM received 25 votes at 14.6 percent. 

Dillard's Vision received 17 votes at 9.9 percent.

The 20 other suggestions all came in with four votes or less, but included ideas such as Lightning Dragons, Dillard’s Smarts and All Academy, Jefferson Academy, New Stars, The Cats, Dr. Shotwell Academy and Rockingham County Elementary Dillard New Vision Rockingham Academy for Kids. 

Contact Justyn Melrose at (336) 349 -4331, ext. 6140 and follow @JMelrose_RCN on Twitter.

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