William Shakespeare once wrote, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." In modern English that translates to, "The name of something doesn't matter, only what the thing is."
Not according to a group of alumni, who are against the proposed name change of the school to Elizabeth Carol Cherry Memorial High School.
At the May 12 Board of Education meeting, West Hempstead resident Lynn Singleton with over 200 electronic signatures in support of renaming the school in honor of Cherry, a veteran teacher of the district.
the name on the spot, but then the district's attorney, Florence Frazer, said the board needs to check its own by-laws before approving such a change, and suggested voting on it at another time. (Upon her advice, they rescinded their decision.)
Since that meeting word about the impending name change reached alumni far and wide. An ipetition entitled, "Malverne High School By No Other Name" appeared on Facebook, which had amassed 445 signatures at press time, although several of them are anonymous.
The oldest alum to sign thus far is Doris Riefler Nelson, the salutatorian of the Class of 1947 (no. 118). There are three signatures from 1963 graduates, one from 1964 and one from 1969.
Additionally, Marguerite O'Connor, First Vice President of the board, signed the petition (no. 227).
Another Facebook page called, "Don't Change the Name of Malverne High School," was started by Marc Loftus, a Malverne High School graduate from the Class of 1987.
On the Facebook page he writes, "This page does not question Ms. Cherry's career accomplishments, but feels a change is inappropriate and lessens the contributions of so many former Malverne teachers of years past. Most importantly, Ms. Cherry never actually taught in the high school and therefore, a change to the school's name is heavily opposed."
On Memorial Day, Loftus and an alumna were at the Malverne train station, several yards from the ceremonies, handing out buttons that read, "Malverne High School, Then-Now-Always," as well as fliers to educate the public about the proposed name change. They also had paper petitions for residents and alumni to sign. They hung balloons of blue and orange (Malverne High School's colors) from a pillar.
The group opposing the name change has no official leader but Loftus was willing to speak publicly on its behalf.
"There's so many people that have gone through the high school that have become successful - doctors, athletes, entertainers, politicians - no one, I think, is the 'face' of the high school. I think they're all part of what makes Malverne High School Malverne High School," he said.
Loftus and others from the group plan to present their opposing petition to the board at its next meeting on Tuesday. They intend to make it clear that this isn't a "character attack" against Cherry, but that they're unhappy about a name change of any kind. They will also lobby to amend the Board of Education by-laws to state that no name change will ever happen to the school in perpetuity.
Evidently, this rose of another name is a thorny issue.