School board to vote on new middle school name Dec. 15


Mia Salbego, Writer

After selecting the three finalists for the naming of the new middle school set to open in the fall of 2023, the Oshkosh Area School Board will officially vote on the name at its regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 15. 

OASD School Board’s Facilities and Finance Committee conducted an open-ended survey of Oshkosh community members this past October and concluded that the name would honor a person of historical importance to Oshkosh and Wisconsin. 

The first of the three finalists is women’s suffrage activist Jessie Jack Hooper. Hooper became the first president of the Wisconsin League of Women’s Voters as well as the first woman to run for a senate position representing Wisconsin in 1922. Alongside her more well known work, Hooper also worked to raise the age of consent for girls and fought for the protection of women in industry. 

The second finalist is civil rights activist and philanthropist Vel Phillips. She was the first African American woman to attend and graduate from the University of Wisconsin’s Law School, as well as Wisconsin Democratic Party’s first African American national committeewoman. Phillips became the first non-white judge in Wisconsin in 1971. 

The third finalist, Paul H. Poberezny, was an entrepreneur who created the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) and EAA AirVenture annual fly-in in Oshkosh. Poberezny also served as a military aviator. 

Facilities and Finance Committee member Barbara Herzog says that the school board will review results from the survey on Nov. 30 at 11:30 am in the school district office. 

The proposal for a new middle school was written into the 2020 capital referendum. The referendum requested $107 million in capital funds, $35 million going towards the building of a new elementary school at the current Webster Stanley Middle School and $53 million going into the building of a new middle school, close to the current Merril site. An additional $9 million would be contributed towards security upgrades to further ensure the safety of students and staff within the new buildings. 

The new school will consist of students and staff that were or would soon be attending middle school’s Merril and Webster.

A few previous Webster and Merril students voiced their opinions on what they believe their old school names should be turned into. 

“I would choose Jessie Jack Hooper. We actually learned about her in Communities, and I think her name would send a good message from the school to the community,” senior Linzy Hinderman says. 

Conversely, senior and previous Webster Stanley student Klara Stelzer believes Phillips should receive the vote.

“I think it should be Vel Phillips because everything she accomplished represents a positive message that should be sent to students.”

We can expect more information to come as the final stage of the naming process takes place this month.