PJU submits official request to change school’s name


David Nelson

Pro Justice Union leadership, (left to right), Treasurer Morgan Elmore, President Holly Hamilton, and Secretary Ava Talmadge celebrate a over two-year long project to change the name of the school.

Jacqueline Daniels, Editor in Chief

A young Charles Lindbergh in this undated photo. (Photo courtesy of Charles Lindbergh House and Museum)

Pro Justice Union (PJU) has officially submitted a student letter with staff and community support to the Renton School District (RSD) Board of Directors to change the name of Charles A. Lindbergh High School to a name that better represents the whole school and community. “Today, we are writing to you as representatives of a majority of student and staff survey respondents concerned about the name of our school and what it represents. Charles A. Lindbergh was a known white supremacist and Nazi-sympathizer. This is not a name nor a person who represents the student body, staff or community of Lindbergh High School,” according to the letter.

This has been a long project for PJU, who has fought for student voice in many other high profile procedures including the change of the student dress code.  The February 2020 survey showed 87% of staff respondents supported the change and 56% of student respondents also supported the change with 27% of the remaining voting students asking for more time to think about their decision. 

This is the first time students have officially requested the name change to the school board per the district policy. Many other attempts via Change.org have come up short in additional support. 

The school received its name in 1969 by the school board according to the Renton Chronicle newspaper. “Renton School directors named the new $5 million facility Charles A. Lindbergh High School commemorating America’s Lone Eagle who made the first Trans-Atlantic flight in 1927.” One of the five directors made an inclination for aerospace age names.” No other mention in the newspaper if community was involved.

During the yearlong research project, the Egalitarian found the district was facing many other public pressures at the time, including a financial crisis, delay in the opening of Lindbergh, sex education, dress code and the departure of its superintendent, Dr. Earl W. Hobbs. Dr. Hobbs took a similar post in Missouri. 

Named in 1969 by the Renton School District Board of Directors. The school would not open until September 7, 1972. (David Nelson)

What’s next?

The letter to the board should be part of the May 25 School Board meeting, however action is not expected until after the June 8th meeting.  According to RSD Policy 6970P, the superintendent will identify a committee to be approved by the Board whose purpose will be to submit to the Board a list of up to five names for a facility.  The list will briefly state why the committee nominated each name.  The committee may solicit nominations from students, staff, and the community. 

The committee will, whenever possible, follow these guidelines:

  • Each nominated name will be widely known to, and significant to, the community;
  • The names submitted will not conflict nor cause confusion with the names of other facilities in the district or surrounding districts;
  • The use of names of living persons will be avoided unless the circumstances warrant an exception; ad
  • The names of key supporting organizations may be used.

The Board will select the name of the facility. Formal dedication of the facility will take place within one year after date of completion.

During an interview with Dr. Damien Pattenaude told the Egalitarian in January, “I have the ability to change a mascot. The naming of schools is not under my authority. The Board is aware of the controversy, I been aware of the controversy. Our secondary schools are named after people and our elementary schools are named for locations (neighborhood). There is always opportunity for us based on what we have learned, what we know how now to reexamine things.”

(Contributors: James Back, Elina Nghiem, Ava Talmadge, Jasmin Cruz-Abarca, John Vu, Madison O’Neil,  Jada Walker-Calloway, Prabhleen Kaur, Jocelyn Spairring, Dan Ngo, Kaela Saechao, Kieshawn Houston, Alayah Walker and David Nelson.)