ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A committee launched by the Albany School District Board of Education in June has landed on a new name for Philip J. Schuyler Achievement Academy, district officials announced Thursday. In an effort to remove the shadow cast by the major general’s slaveholdings, the school will now be known as “Roots Academy at West Hill.”
“Our students and our community have spoken, and we now have a name that truly represents us,” said outgoing Superintendent Kaweeda G. Adams. The new name will take effect on July 1, 2023.
The school name was selected in a survey of current and former Schuyler students and families, school and district staff, and members of the West Hill community. It beat out two other names under consideration: Peter Pryor School of Social Justice and C. Mary Williams Citizenship Academy.
According to the district policy on school renaming, the name had to align with the district’s school renaming policy, reflect the school’s mission and vision, and consider the community the school serves. Along with being a Revolutionary War general and U.S. senator, the former namesake was a slaver.
Current Albany High junior Franz Gopaulsingh is a member of the Young Abolitionists Leadership Institute of the Underground Railroad Education Center. He served on the renaming committee and came up with the idea for Roots Academy. His proposal incorporated three elements of the school ethos.
The metaphorical roots—developed and kept healthy by the school’s educators—will provide a strong foundation to springboard students to success. Like a complex network of roots strengthens the tree’s trunk and supports its branches, the diverse student body represents more than just one attribute. That’s why it ought to be represented by more than just one figure.
“The process of renaming our school really empowered our students and gave our community a choice and voice,” said Schuyler Principal Kendra Chaires-Francis. “The result is a name that shows our school is rooted in our history, rooted in our culture, and rooted in our community.”