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This past Tuesday, at an advisory board created by Dr. Hardy Murphy met to discuss the issue of renaming Haven Middle School for our retiring mayor, Lorraine Morton. Haven parents were represented only by our PTSA co-presidents; no parents were invited to join in the discussion, and the two students were handpicked. A few of these committee members – all of whom attested to long-standing personal and/or professional relationships with the mayor – were stunned by opposition to this idea. Because we were only allowed to attend as “observers,” let us explain our concerns. Our school has an amazing historical legacy – named for Otis Erastus Haven, who championed secondary education in this new School District back in 1873, as our first school superintendent. His name, though little-known even to the Haven student body, is a treasured legacy of our City’s heritage. This year, Haven parents embarked on a $150,000 fundraising campaign to bring our library up to 21st-century standards. We have half the number of books any decent middle school library should have, and their average age is 21 years. Aware of Mrs. Morton’s pending retirement and appreciative of her legacy as a former principal at Haven, our committee wanted to honor her by renaming our new library/media center in her honor. Dr. Murphy and Board president Mary Erickson trumped our plan and decided the building should be stripped of the name Haven and named for the mayor. At this recent meeting, Dr. Murphy indicated funding for signage, uniforms, etc., would be a non-issue, that funds could be found. Well, those funds would go a long way to replacing the worn books and torn chairs in our library – for which the District has no funds. We are not the bad guys. We want to honor Mayor Morton. But why are we backed into a corner, with no other options to honor a woman who has served the entire Evanston community, not just Haven? Why is there no discussion of alternatives, such as a statue or plaque? Why are Haven parents scrambling against the short deadline set by this committee – hurry up and decide by February so we can honor her before she retires? This is stripping our school of its nearly century-old identity and is a terrible lesson for our children. History matters. The fact that memories dim and familiarity fades with time should not mean that Mr. Haven or others similarly honored should be institutionally forgotten. And neither should the voices of the Haven community be shut out. Let’s open the door on this discussion. Our fundraising has a long way to go, but with Mayor Morton’s name above the library doors, we can get there. — Jan Ashton