Minneapolis’ Ramsey Middle School is no more. In the final hours of the school year, the school board voted to change its name to Justice Page Middle School.
Students had campaigned to remove the name of Alexander Ramsey, who had a résumé that included stints as the first governor of the Minnesota Territory and the state’s second governor, from 1860 to 1863, a period that included the Dakota War in southern Minnesota and the hanging of 38 Dakota men in the aftermath. Ramsey called for the extermination of the Sioux, now called Dakota.
The school’s new namesake, Alan Page, was Minnesota’s first black Supreme Court justice. He’s also a Vikings Hall of Famer. The Page Education Foundation, which he manages with his wife, has given more than $12 million in scholarships to more than 6,000 students in the past 30 years.
Page, who retired from the court in 2015, was at the school Wednesday morning greeting students. Kids and adults posed in makeshift bow ties in honor of Page’s signature accessory. One wore a blue Ramsey Middle T-shirt — but had crossed out the former school name and written “PAGE” in black marker.
Mohamed Mohamud, who will be in seventh grade next year, called the renaming “such a big thing.”
“I was happy that we succeeded,” he said.
The renaming campaign kicked off last year, when students sported “Rename Ramsey” stickers at the August open house. The kids held community meetings, gathering opinions from students, families and community members, and researched and planned for their campaign. They raised more than $17,000.
“I am deeply inspired by their example,” said Principal Erin Rathke in a district release. “Not only did these kids bring our school community together around an important cause, they did so in a respectful, productive way.”
In other action, the board approved the 2017-18 school budget and approved two literacy programs for just under $10 million — a cost lower than previously expected, saving the district $1.2 million. It also passed a policy that calls for a minimum of 30 minutes of recess at all elementary schools.