MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. – It may bear a new name, but it’s the same Mount Vernon school after district officials officially renamed the Longfellow schools in honor of a pair of prominent city residents.
Beginning on Monday, when students crossed the threshold, they were no longer entering the Longfellow Elementary and Middle School. Instead, they were entering the Rebecca Turner Elementary School and the Benjamin Turner Middle School after being officially renamed over the weekend.
Collectively, the campus of the schools will be known as the Benjamin and Rebecca Turner Educational Park.
According to local historian Larry Spruill, who will be the keynote speaker at the weekend event, “Benjamin Turner was a free Revolutionary War era African American parishioner of the historic St. Paul’s Church, while Rebecca Turner was a businesswoman and parishioner of Asbury Methodist Church beginning in the 1830s.”
“Their family ties to our community can be dated prior to the 1664 founding of Eastchester, which began at St. Paul’s Church in Mount Vernon."
Mount Vernon Superintendent Kenneth Hamilton said that this renaming provides the district a chance to honor the Turner’s “legacy.”
“As we continue to transform our school district in the name of social justice, this is a great opportunity to celebrate the Turner’s legacy in Mount Vernon and demonstrate to our students that it is never too late to right a wrong and make amends with the past,” he said.
At the renaming ceremony, Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson – in advance of an interview regarding her intention to run for mayor of Mount Vernon – expressed her continued optimism and support for the direction Hamilton and other schools officials are taking the district.
“It’s a historic day for the Turners, and it’s a perfect time to bring our past and present together in this educational center, which meant such a tremendous amount to them,” she said. “It’s been a very long time since I felt so good about the direction of our schools, where we’re going and who is going to take us there.”
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