She said she’s received two dozen phone calls and more than 100 e-mails from concerned parents who object to the proposed name: Lebanon High School. She urged the board to instead consider calling the school something like “Freedom High School.”
Skender and other parents met with local TV station NBC DFW, saying they were initially told the school would be called Freedom High. Now they want a voice in the final decision.
“For a high school name, it doesn’t fit this community,” parent Robert Mays told the station.
“All we’re asking for is a voice, to be heard and have an open mind,” Skender added.
Back when cattle drives moved through North Texas, herders would break from the trail in a small farming community some 15 miles from Dallas to rest and water their horses. The town became known as Lebanon, named for settlers from a Tennessee town by the same name.
The town grew to have its own church, post office and a schoolhouse, called Lebanon School. In the early 1900s, the booming railroad industry bypassed the town and set up shop a few miles north. Residents plopped their homes and businesses atop logs pulled by steam engines and moved to Frisco, Tex., according to the school district. Now, Frisco Independent School District is building the new high school where the town once stood.
“It stands as an acknowledgement to those who once lived and farmed in this community and who have contributed greatly to the Frisco and Frisco ISD of today,” the school district said in a statement.
U.S. towns named the same as Middle Eastern locations are not that unusual — Damascus, Ore.; Mecca, Calif.; Turkey, Tex.; Persia, Mo.; Cairo, Ill.; Aleppo, Penn.; and even Baghdad, Fla. There are churches, schools and roads that share these names as well.
In Frisco, less than 30 miles from Dallas, there’s still a Baptist church, a main road and some apartments named Lebanon. Even after most residents abandoned the small farming community to be near the railroad many decades ago, some continued to send their children to the Lebanon School until it closed in 1947.
The school district sees the name as a way for the city to remember where it came from.
However, the school board met again last week and considered a small change to the name to avoid having initials (LHS) that match those of another school in the district (Liberty High School). Spokesman Shana Wortham told the Dallas Morning News that another word would be added to Lebanon, such as “community,” to avoid confusion. The district told NBC DFW that although it has altered names in the past, it has never completely scratched one.
Skender and her group are preparing to speak at the next school board meeting on Feb. 9.