They still say "Friendship" when they answer the phones at the block-long, brown brick educational center at South Capitol Street and Livingston Road SE.
The same sign that has been there for all the school's 13 years is still out front, and until mid-October they will still sing the Friendship school song.
But this year the Congress Heights school for 1,300 students in kindergarten through ninth grade will get a new name: The Patricia Roberts Harris School, in memory of the first black woman appointed to a U.S. Cabinet post and ambassador post as well as the first black American to become delegate to the United Nations. Harris, who lived much of her adult life in Washington and ran for mayor against Marion Barry in 1982, died of cancer five years ago.
It seemed like a nice gesture.
Unless you are among the more than 100 members of the Friendship band or among the PTA members who ran bake sales and other fund-raisers for two years to raise $25,000 for new band uniforms last year.
The new maroon and gold uniforms have a giant "F" emblazoned on a cape and "F.E.C." on the front.
"That's a lot of money that we really didn't have," said Lillian Drumgold, president of the PTA. "It was hard to raise."
Earlier this year, D.C. school board members voted unanimously to rename Friendship and the Washington Highland School at Eighth and Yuma streets SE, which will become Ferebee-Hope Elementary in memory of physician Dorothy Boulding Ferebee and 1950s-era social worker Marion Conover Hope.
The idea was to inspire youngsters by naming their schools after black role models. School board member R. Calvin Lockridge (Ward 8) said he will recommend renaming every school in his Ward 8 after African Americans who have made a contribution to the community.
He said it will encourage black children to reach and achieve.
Charles M. Barksdale, who has a son in eighth grade at the school, was surprised like many parents, but said it's a good idea. But others are miffed.
Some said they were unaware of a public hearing on the issue last summer, and others underestimated its significance.
"It was my understanding that to do a name change, it would have to go through a lot of procedures . . . and that it would take years," Drumgold said.
Others lamented the impact on tradition. "I don't know anyone that likes it," said PTA member Karen Rush. "People have Friendship School on their certificate and they've gone on, what are we going to do about that? . . . . There are trophies and things like that. Can we change those too?
Harris, the daughter of a dining car waiter, was a lawyer and diplomat who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development and secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under the Carter administration.
She was President Johnson's ambassador to Luxembourg, and she was the first black woman to be dean of Howard University law school.
"We want to make Frienship the kind of school that Pat Harris would have demanded," Lockridge said. "Pat Harris would not stand for second rate."
"The only basic cost is the cost of the name change on the sign," he said.
As for the band uniforms, he vowed to raise the money needed to buy another batch.
"I'm good at fund-raising," he said.