GANDER, NL – The imminent threat of renaming St. Paul’s Intermediate has been defused – for now.
Those who voted in opposition to the name change won by a wide margin.
According to Holly McDonald, spokesperson from St. Paul’s Intermediate school council, 79 per cent opposed the proposed name change, and 21 per cent were in in favour.
A letter addressed to parents, guardians and Gander community members was sent out Nov. 27, 2017 to inform them that a renewal committee was established to address a name change for St. Paul’s Intermediate. No particular name had been proposed.
Former students almost missed the announcement, which was spotted by chance on Facebook and shared.
According to the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD), the name change was proposed to make the school’s name consistent with Gander’s three other schools, and to eliminate confusion with other schools named St. Paul’s within the district.
Peter Soucy was a member of the first graduating class from the current building and was a leading voice in the debate over the name. He wrote to the school council and worked behind the scenes to rally against the name change.
Soucy is relieved that past memories will be preserved for the current generation of students, saying continuity is important.
“People buy into the name – it becomes part of the history. People have memorabilia, pictures, sweaters, jackets and memories of cheering at games,
slogans, chants, the songs we sang. It’s part of the fabric of community,” Soucy said.
“I’m glad that 79 per cent voted against it and really, all they have to gain is preserving a tie to the heritage. I’m glad it turned out that way, and I assume it is over and done with and won’t be back.”
But a statement from the school council hints at the possibility that it may not be over yet.
“Therefore, the St. Paul’s renewal committee withdrew its request for a name change at this time,” the statement reads.
One thing is certain – should the topic of a name change rise again, a passionate voice of past St. Paul’s Intermediate graduates will be waiting to oppose the change.