Alumni want to keep Jay name

Jan. 07, 2013 @ 09:16 PM

The alumni of the old Allen Jay School and several others with connections to the surrounding community want the Guilford County Board of Education to keep the name for a proposed academy.
The new magnet middle school proposed for the vacant middle school campus should be called the Allen Jay Preparatory Academy, they say.  The Board of Education is expected to hear at least six nominations tonight during a 6 p.m. meeting in administrative offices in Greensboro.  Five nominations suggest the Allen Jay name to honor the Quaker minister and evangelist who died in 1910.
The campus is scheduled for $12 million in renovations for use as a small “advantage” middle school with special programs and a longer school day and year. Tony Hill filed a nomination for the school alumni association.
“In 1923, this school was named after Allen Jay for his commitment and dedication to education and our community at large,” Hill said.
The middle school was last used in August 2009, when it housed students from the old Union Hill Elementary School while a new Union Hill building was being built.
Kenneth Wheat wants the community remembered.
“The community on the southern edge of High Point has been known as the ‘Allen Jay Community’ since the late 1920s,” said Wheat, who filed a Jay biography and history of the community and school with his nomination. A nearby elementary school also carries the Jay name.
Warren Jones, a 1969 Allen Jay High School graduate, offered a history showing Jay’s importance to the Quaker community “as one of the most prominent ministers of the Society of Friends.”
Jay was assigned to church affairs in North Carolina and Tennessee. From his home in High Point, Jay “built up” churches and established schools. By the time he left the area in 1875, he helped to establish 31 schools, including what became Guilford College.  Jay also “worked on the Underground Railroad in order to help free slaves before and during the Civil War,” Jones said.
Last month, Mayor Bernita Sims and councilwoman Becky Smothers questioned why the school board would want to change the Jay name because it has become part of the community.
Joe Stafford of Greensboro wants the school to recognize Robert W. Utley, principal of Nathaniel Greene School through the Great Depression and World War II. He later was district superintendent of building and grounds for 20 years. Utley died in 1981.
The KIPP portion of the proposed name recognizes the Knowledge is Power Program used in public and charter schools across the nation. Many KIPP students are in school for nine and a half hours a day, plus three weeks of summer school, and homework every night. There are also mandatory Saturday classes for field trips and community service. Founded in Houston’s inner city in 1994 by two fifth-grade teachers, KIPP has grown to 100 schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia.
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Allen Jay School
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Nominations:  Allen Jay Preparatory Academy leads in nominations followed by the Robert W. Utley KIPP Middle School.

Schedule: The Board of Education will consider naming the vacant Allen Jay Middle School after a 30-day comment period on nominations.    
Program: The new magnet program will focus on literacy and college preparation, with an emphasis on structure and positive reinforcement.  In its first year, the school will enroll students in grades five and six only.