The Austin Chronicle

Eastside Memorial It Is

By Richard Whittaker, August 15, 2008, News

Johnston High is no longer Johnston High. As the Texas Education Agency requested, Austin Independent School District board of trustees has selected a new name for the East Austin campus. Before the name was announced at the board's meeting on Aug. 11, board President Mark Williams said, "Whatever name we pick, it will disappoint some and excite others." But there was general applause when the new name was agreed upon: Eastside Memorial High School at the Johnston Campus.

For administrative purposes, Johnston ceases to exist on Aug. 15, and the district had to come up with a new name so it could apply for a new Public Education Information Management System number. The new name is a compromise reached after a consultation process that began with AISD asking for the public to send in suggestions. A total of 618 submissions were sent in, with 206 different nominations. There was no clear winner, with the biggest single vote being 101 for Cesar Chavez, but several themes emerged. These included 20 variations of Johnston, though combined they only totaled 53 votes; 19 suggestions contained some variation of East Side, Eastside, or East Austin, and rolled together, they got a total of 76 votes; Memorial and Veterans Memorial together garnered 75 votes. "There's obviously a lot of community interest in this process," said Williams in a moment of understatement.

In a second round of less formal consultation, the Johnston Alumni Association asked members to rank the Top 3 suggestions, and in descending order they chose Eastside, then Memorial, then Chavez. The former Parent Teacher Student Associ­a­tion also came out in favor of Eastside. There was a series of statements during citizens' communication from military veterans among the Johnston alumni, in support of the name Memorial, to recall the military service of many of their peers. District 2 trustee Sam Guzman, in whose district the new school sits, proposed the compromise name and said, "Eastside Memorial is a name that connects us to the past and to the pride of the Eastside."

The board is planning a small naming ceremony for Aug. 14 to erect some temporary signs, but there's a caveat: Guzman's proposal allows the name to be altered next year, when the second stage of the repurposing takes place and the second new school opens on the campus, to fit the new descriptions.

Copyright © 2023 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.