A Stapleton Middle School Tackles The KKK Connection In Their Name

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Photo: Sage Jones DSST Stapleton
Eighth-grader Sage Jones was one of a dozen DSST Stapleton students who went to school administration to present his ideas for removing the name Stapleton from their school.

Residents and activists in the Stapleton neighborhood have been debating a name change for years. Now the conversation includes students, as middle schoolers at the Denver School of Science and Technology Stapleton made a presentation last month to the administration about changing the school’s name.

"You know a lot of these students have to walk into their school everyday knowing that we bear a name that does not respect them," eighth-grader Sage Jones said.

The Denver Stapleton neighborhood was named for Benjamin Stapleton, who served as the city’s mayor for five terms starting in the 1920s. But Stapleton was also a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Groups such as Rename Stapleton For All and Black Lives Matter 5280 have been advocating for a change for years.Photo: PJ Shields Brooklyn Luckett DSST

That’s where the students come in. Every middle schooler at DSST Stapleton spent the last year researching and debating the name of their school. A school-wide survey showed a majority of students -- 57 percent -- thought the name should change. Last month, 12 students presented their arguments to the administration.

"Honestly I was nervous, but I felt like we got the point across about what we wanted to see changed and how we wanted to see it happen," seventh-grader Brooklyn Luckett said.

PJ Shields, a writing teacher at DSST Stapleton, helped organize the group. She believed children should join adults in the conversation about what it means to be named after a figure with a troubling history.

A decision about changing the name will wait until next year as the administration engages the student body and figures out next steps, said Heather Lamm, a spokesperson for DSST.

"I absolutely think the change should have been more immediate, but I also understand why this is a very convoluted and debated topic and it needs to be spoken about a lot more before a decision can be made," Jones said