We're generally accustomed to calling our schools by their last names, so whenever its full name is published or broadcast, it seems like a bit of a shock. Recently, for example, arrangers of a reunion issued a call for old grads of Theodore Roosevelt High School in Washington. It took moments to realize that, by gosh, that's the school we usually think of as simply Roosevelt High.
Of course -- and maybe it's feminism in action -- we never read of a similarly named school in Greenbelt without its full name: Eleanor Roosevelt High School. And Deal Junior High in Northwest Washington rarely is discussed without its--her?--first name, Alice.
What sparked all this, incidentally, was a reference in a news story the other day to Winston Churchill High School in Montgomery County--full name. But, maybe some kind of Winstonesque mystique is at play here.
And what of James Ewell Brown Stuart High School in Fairfax County, named for a Confederate military hero? It's usually shortened in formal print to J.E.B. Stuart, and in informal print to Jeb Stuart. But rarely just Stuart.
Sometimes a school system doesn't even know the names of its own schools. Just last week, for example, the D.C. school system published a legal advertisement for renovations at "Kelly-Miller Junior High School"--which is named not for two hyphenated people but for one, Kelly Miller, a distinguished educator.