The HUUSD School Board met remotely on Wednesday, February 10. Much of the meeting was devoted to discussion about changing the name of Thatcher Brook Primary School.
A brief history: When Waterbury and Duxbury merged school districts, about 25 years ago, Waterbury Elementary School was renamed Thatcher Brook Primary School. The selection of a name from a nearby body of water reflected the community’s interest in welcoming and including students from both towns. Recently, it came to light that Partridge Thatcher -- the namesake of the Thatcher Brook -- was a slaveholder. In 1749, he purchased two enslaved children, Jacob and Dinah, ages 10 and 11, who were married several years later; their 10 children were all enslaved by Thatcher. While Thatcher freed one of these children in 1773, and Jacob and Dinah in 1781, his remaining slaves were not freed until his death in 1786.
Over the last school year, the School Board has begun to engage in anti-racism work -- learning more about what this concept means and what role school boards have in dismantling institutional racism in our schools. Reconsideration of Thatcher Brook Primary School’s name is one of several areas the Board intends to explore in the coming months and years.
Regarding the matter of renaming Thatcher Brook Primary School, the Board received a number of letters and phone calls from community members in the last few weeks and heard public comment at several meetings on the topic. During this week’s meeting, Board members reflected on the need to change the name as well as an inclusive process for doing so. After a lengthy discussion, the Board unanimously passed the following resolution: The HUUSD Board supports changing the name of Thatcher Brook Primary School to further our mission to create a welcoming and inclusive environment and will determine a process, that includes community members and students, to identify a new name.
Over the next several meetings (likely February 17, March 10, March 24), the Board will begin to develop the process that will be used to identify a new name for the school. While the details still need to be finalized, it is clear from Board discussion that the process will involve students, staff, and community members and will take time to complete -- perhaps even a year or so.
As always, the Board welcomes feedback from our community. One of the easiest ways to share your thoughts is to send an email to [email protected], which will go to every Board member. There is also time at every Board meeting for public comment. Alternately, reach out to one of your neighbors who is on the school board and share your thoughts in a personal email or phone call (see a list of Board members and contact information at https://docs.google.com/document/d/12bzeVf75bYYP01HvJA0FhigQU1vVqycVJfoXg-PIhEs/edit)