Students and staff at the Wedge’s International Center for Accelerated Language Learning (ICALL) High School, in the Lehmann building at 1006 W. Lake St., want to change the school’s name to memorialize the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, said school coordinator Dixie Olmstead. Some ideas for the change include Wellstone High School, Wellstone International High School or Wellstone International School.
The school, the newest in the Minneapolis Public School system, serves approximately 175 students 17 and older who are recent immigrants to the United States with little or no education, mostly from African, Asian and Latin American countries.
Olmstead said a month or so after Wellstone’s death, students and staff at the school heard of a school in St. Paul changing its name to Wellstone and thought it sounded like a good idea. "The students didn’t like the name of the school, because it doesn’t sound like a school and it’s too cumbersome," she said.
Following a unanimous vote for the change by students and staff, Olmstead said they sent a letter to Minneapolis Public School Superintendent Carol Johnson and began seeking support for the change in the community.
The Lowry East Neighborhood Association already passed a motion at their April meeting to draft a letter in support of the name change, after School Board member Audrey Johnson voiced her support. Olmstead said she is still working with Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-60) and Wellstone’s son Mark Wellstone to approve and support the proposed change.
A recent move to change the name of the CARAG neighborhood to Wellstone floundered when residents could not get a response from the Wellstone family.
Kay McLean, assistant to Supt. Johnson, said in the past two years, two North Minneapolis schools have been granted permission to change their names to honor local community activists and school proponents, but ultimately it’s the School Board’s decision.
McLean said the board would review the proposed change, then schedule a public hearing for community reaction. Following the hearing and public input, she said the board would render a final decision.
For more information about the school or proposed name change, contact Olmstead at 668-3870 or Minneapolis Public Schools Public Relations Coordinator Melissa Winter at 668-0228.