Home News Education Brookline’s Roland Hayes School To Host Renaming Celebration

Brookline’s Roland Hayes School To Host Renaming Celebration

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The Public Schools of Brookline’s Roland Hayes School will commemorate its new moniker with a community celebration on Monday, June 3, 2024, which is the late tenor’s birthday and observed as Roland Hayes Day in Brookline.

The celebration will take place on the school’s grounds at 100 Eliot Street, Brookline, MA 02467, between the hours of 1:00 p.m. and 2.30 p.m., and will be attended by members of Mr. Hayes’ family. The event will include musical performances of his music, by students in grades 3-5 as well as by vocalist Jackson Caesar. Students in the K-8 school will end the ceremony by singing “Happy Birthday” to the school’s new namesake.

This is the culmination of an elaborate renaming process that the school commenced after it discovered, through Hidden Brookline, that the school’s previous name, Heath, was after a Brookline family that enslaved others.

The efforts were led by a Student Renaming Committee, who proposed four names– musician Roland Hayes, METCO founder Ruth Batson, artist John Woodrow Wilson and abolitionists Ellen and William Craft. On June 8 and 9, 2023, these were put to a vote. A total of 733 people, including students, staff and family members, cast their votes and decided that the school would be renamed after Roland Hayes, a pioneering Black musician who lived in Brookline for a large part of his life.

Thereafter, the new name was approved by the School Committee and the Town’s Naming Committee. Finally, on November 16, 2023, the Student Renaming Committee presented the new name at Town Meeting, and Town Meeting members voted overwhelmingly to approve the renaming of the school to Roland Hayes School.

“We embarked on the school renaming process in an effort to collectively understand the role of slavery in our community, the impact on our school, create a vision of ourselves more aligned with our current values, and build as safe a community as possible for those in our care”, said Asa Sevelius, the school principal. “With our process and the selection of Roland Hayes as our new school name, I think we are closer to meeting that collective goal.”

The Roland Hayes School and the Public Schools of Brookline invite the entire community to come and be a part of the renaming celebration.