The Identity Project: Renaming Our Schools
Take the Poll for T.C. Williams High School
See the names submitted by ACPS students
Take the Poll for Matthew Maury Elementary School
See the names submitted by ACPS students
Student Voices Matter
Following a robust community engagement and consultation process, ACPS moved into phase two of The Identity Project as we consider new names for both T.C. Williams High School and Matthew Maury Elementary School. The second phase of The Identity Project — the selection of new names — ensures that students, staff, alumni, families and the community are all heard.
Most importantly, we want to keep the next generation and our students' voices at the heart of this process. To assist the community with suggested names for both schools, we invited all ACPS students to participate in an essay/poster campaign to submit names for community consideration. Following this process, the community is invited to choose one of the student selections or to submit a new nomination.
We are thrilled to have 119 student entries representing 50 different name suggestions for T.C. Williams High School and 29 different name suggestions for Matthew Maury Elementary School.
Names submitted by ACPS Students to Rename T.C. Williams High School
Names Submitted by ACPS Students to Rename Matthew Maury Elementary School
Note: Please know that student entries that suggested keeping the same names of the two schools were not added to this document due to the fact that the Alexandria City School Board has already voted to change the names. At this point in time, only names different from the existing names are being considered. Additionally, name submissions that did not follow the posted criteria, did not add an essay or poster, or did not have a completed entry were not added to this document.
The Process of Choosing a New Name
Following the student essay/poster entry process, ACPS will launch a community poll where the public can view student submissions for suggested names, and either choose a student submission or submit an alternative name suggestion. All ACPS students, staff, families, alumni and community members will have the opportunity to submit names. Based on these results, we will narrow it down to six finalists for each school. The selection will be posted to this website. A second community-wide poll will then be launched to narrow the field to the top three finalists for each school. At this point, the community will have one more opportunity to have their say at a School Board Public Hearing. The Alexandria City School Board will then vote and make a final naming decision that will be announced in April 2021. The new names will become the official names of the schools on July 1, 2021.
About The Identity Project
Many ACPS schools were named during a time in our city and our country when vastly different attitudes and beliefs guided our decisions. In 2020, a spotlight has shone on the many inequities in today's society, and a new determination to right the wrongs of history has swept the nation. To that end, the School Board answered a call to look again at the morality of naming our city's only high school after Thomas Chambliss Williams, a staunch segregationist whose views could not have been more inconsistent with the vibrant, diverse and inclusive place we know today. As that process began, questions were raised about the name of Matthew Maury Elementary School. Was it right to immortalize a commander of the Confederate Navy even though he was also a celebrated oceanographer and astronomer? And so began The Identity Project, a wide-reaching community conversation that allows all voices to be heard as we look toward a more equitable future in Alexandria.
Today, ACPS proudly embraces students from more than 145 countries speaking 132 different languages. Changing a school name is a symbolic step. However, the ultimate goal puts racial equity at the heart of every decision that is made, as seen in our division's 2025 Strategic Plan: Equity for All. School Board Student Representative Lorraine Johnson said, "We hope that this will be the start of further discussions around how we can change our systems from within." Cost estimates to implement the name change at T.C. Williams total about $325,000, while cost estimates for Matthew Maury are just over $5,000.