Northeast Legacy Committees Report Their Recommendations to OKCPS Board of Education
On Monday, January 13, 2020, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Sean McDaniel were presented the recommendations made by the Northeast Legacy committees on how to honor the history of the former Northeast High School.
OKCPS Board Policy D-08 allows individual school sites to be responsible for naming buildings or rooms located on school grounds, so Board approval is not required. However, once a change has been made by the principal, the committee shall advise the superintendent and the board of the name change.
“From the beginning, OKCPS has been committed to working together with families, alumni and the existing school community to honor the legacy of Northeast,” said Dr. Sean McDaniel. “The Board and I recognize that the Northeast name has important and unique historical significance to our district and our city. Through committee work and other efforts, OKCPS is dedicated to preserving the history of Northeast while continuing our quest for academic and artistic excellence at Classen SAS High School at Northeast.”
In September 2019, Dr. Marsha Herron, OKCPS’ Executive Director of Equity and Innovation, was tasked by Superintendent McDaniel to create and guide three committees toward a set of recommendations. As a graduate of Northeast, she said she felt a special connection to the work. "Northeast High School stood as a cornerstone for integration and progression in Oklahoma City Public Schools,” said Dr. Herron. “It gave so much to so many and should live on through the building and grounds for all to see."
Three committees, made up of innovative alumni, administrators, faculty/staff, and students were quickly established through an open application process in the first week of October 2019. Of the 34 applicants, a total of 14 people participated between the three committees. The initial meeting for the committees was held on October 15th and the preliminary work concluded with the last committee meeting held on November 19th.
Below are their recommendations.
The Naming Committee's Recommendations
The Naming Committee was originally responsible for the naming of one portion of NE 32nd Street that runs through the school’s campus, as well as the Library/Media Center. Working together, this group identified four individuals worthy of such an honor, so they submitted a recommendation to name two additional rooms in the building -- the band and choir rooms. Approval was granted by the principal, and the final recommendations for the four named spaces are as follows:
- Library/Media Center - A plaque with personal biography will be placed outside the entrance to the media center in the lower level of the building to honor Mrs. Joyce Henderson, former principal of Northeast and Classen SAS and lifelong educator.
“I am honored by this recognition. I hope my love and caring for my students played a role in this recognition.” - Joyce Henderson
- Choir Room - Mrs. Cordelia Bennett, former music teacher at Northeast, dedicated musician in the NE community, and lifelong educator will be honored in this space located in the east wing of the first floor. Mrs. Bennett has passed on from this life, but her family is grateful for this recognition.
“I believe it is well-deserved! She put in so much time and effort into students at Northeast and across the district. Her work has lived on through students who have done legendary things.” - Harriett Cooper, daughter
- Band Room - Mr. Alvin Jernigan, former band teacher at Northeast and Classen SAS, respected community musician, and lifelong educator.
“I am a servant of the Lord, and this really humbles me.” - Mr. Alvin Jernigan.
- Street Name - At this time we are still in the process of finalizing the details for the portion of NE 32nd street that will be named.
Plaza and Alumni Room Committees' Recommendations
The Plaza and Alumni Room committees chose to merge into one group. Unlike the Naming Committee, the work of the Viking Plaza and Alumni Room committee will resume once approval has been granted for the bidding process and renderings are received so they can make a final selection for the design of each.
- Northeast Viking Pride Plaza, located on the north side of the school, will be refurbished with fresh landscaping and will house the Viking benches that have been donated to Northeast High School/Northeast Academy over the years which are now in safe-keeping at the OKCPS Operations Center. A sculpture and/or monument that honors the Viking history is also being considered.
- The Northeast Alumni Room will commemorate history with items such as trophies, photos, championship banners, letter jackets, records, and other items that are meaningful for school alumni. A recommendation was made to the school’s principal to move the original location of the Alumni room from one room to another, and the committee selected various components for the alumni room and the plaza that they felt would help to honor Northeast High School in a comprehensive way. The committee has appointed a curator who will continue to collect items from the NE alumni.
“We felt this process was a good experience because it gave us an opportunity to preserve the historical significance of Northeast High School in the building. We look forward to having a permanent place in the building and grounds moving forward.”
- Melodie Moore, Chair for the Plaza and Alumni Room Committee
Scot McAdoo, the current principal of Classen SAS High School at Northeast has been very supportive of the legacy efforts saying, "I consider it an honor to be part of a process that will recognize and celebrate outstanding members of the Northeast community. I hope this will help our students to better understand the history of the building and to appreciate the impact that the educators they interact with here every day could ultimately have on their lives and on our community as a whole.”
In addition to internal/external signage and engraving on the building, as well as the Viking Mascot which remains in main entrance flooring, OKCPS is currently designing a unit of instruction to engage students in exploring the history of Northeast High School and Northeast Academy. During the 2019-2020 school year this unit will be taught to all students in grades 9-12. Beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, all incoming freshmen to Classen SAS High School at Northeast will be taught about the history of NEHS/NEA.
Andre Coleman, Committee Chair
Alumni Room and Plaza Committee
Melodie Moore, Committee Chair
Rev. Travis Rollins
Sherry Hall Harris