FLORENCE, S.C. – The new middle school being built off of North Ebenezer Road is one step closer to having an old name after a naming committee decided Tuesday night that it should be named after John W. Moore.
The school, which Florence School District 1 aims to have completed by June 2013, will be immediately taking in the students of Moore Intermediate School in the fall, though eventually the goal is to eventually transition to becoming a true middle school, accommodating grades six, seven and eight.
In a 12-6 vote, the committee of community members voted that the new middle school should be named after Moore, the intermediate school’s current namesake and former Florence City Schools superintendent, over state Rep. Alfred Rush. The recommendation will be submitted to the school board at its Dec. 13 meeting for final approval.
Moore Intermediate School principal Carol Schweitz reported that only eight of 66 staff members polled voted against retaining the Moore name, and that in a small group of parents she spoke with in the past week, all of them were in favor of naming the new building Moore.
However, she had one request.
“I suggested we keep it as John W. Moore. With a lot of elementary schools around here, like Lucy T. Davis and Dewey L. Carter and Henry Timrod, they keep their namesakes entire name,” Schweitz said. “With Moore we feel like his name has been lost over the years and his story, but once I shared the biography we found about him we as a staff felt a renewed connection to him, and so we decided we’d like the school to be John W. Moore.”
Moore, who was known around town as Col. Moore because of his position as commandant of the cadets at The Citadel in the early 1900s, was the superintendent of the school district from 1923 to 1946 and did some very early civil rights advocacy in Florence in the 1920s. In 1957, when some citizens were pushing back against the school integration required by the Brown v. Board of Education decision, Moore joined a group of white ministers and community leaders who published the pamphlet of essays “South Carolinians Speak: A Moderate Approach to Race Relations” in which he argued for equal rights under the law for all people.
The biggest debate the committee laboriously undertook Tuesday night was whether the new middle school being built near the new Lucy T. Davis Elementary School is a brand new school or is actually a replacement school for Moore Intermediate School.
The answer some irritated members got from Randy Koon, the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction, was that though it will get new school colors and a new mascot, it is a temporary replacement for Moore Intermediate and will immediately take on all of its staff, students and stuff.
In order for the new middle school to become a true middle school, the district has to finish this phase of building, including the new middle school, and rebuilds for North Vista and Royall elementary schools.
For the whole district to shift to a K-5 elementary and a 6-8 middle school, the second phase has to be completed to expand the elementary schools and would progress in the order of Delmae Elementary, Southside Middle, Williams Middle and Savannah Grove Elementary.
Lionel Brown, the assistant superintendent for administrative services who oversees the capital improvement campaign, said that could take years.
The committee did request that they report back to the board the Rush’s name was in consideration and should be put into the mix the next time the need arises to name a new building.
The other four names considered a week before were unofficially taken out of consideration. Eugene “Nick” Zeigler’s name was eliminated because his family voiced that he would want Moore honored and Allie E. Brooks Jr., Rev. William P. Diggs and Larry Jackson were eliminated because they are all still living.