After months of public debate over a proposal to rename a pair of Waterford Kettering High School athletic fields — and a divided 4-3 Board of Education that originally shot down the request by a former Kettering teacher — for two former Kettering coaches, we were pleased to hear that a member of the district’s governing body had a change of heart, therefore allowing the fields to be renamed after Jim Larkin and Tom Bryce. But the debate over the matter should prompt district officials to reconsider a policy to follow when similar situations arise.
Board of Education Treasurer Robin McGregor deserves praise for rethinking her original position that the Kettering football and baseball fields should not be renamed after the two former coaches. Two months after being one of the four members of the board — including Joan Sutherland, John Himmelspach and Heather Halls — who rejected Hal Farah’s proposal to rename the fields, McGregor called for another vote on the issue and joined the three-member bloc of board members who voted on Jan. 19 in favor of renaming the fields.
McGregor, Bob Piggott, Robert Petrusha, Jr., and Robert Seeterlin voted in favor of the name changes earlier this month.
According to Farah, Bryce served 35 years in the district in a variety of positions, including as Kettering’s varsity baseball coach, as well as a counselor and assistant principal. Farah said Larkin, also a district graduate, was Kettering’s first football coach, in addition to being a physical education and history teacher. Both men also later served on the Waterford Board of Education, and are certainly deserving of being recognized by having fields named after them, much as the Kurzman Administrative Office and the Stepanski Early Childhood Center are named after former district personnel.
Sutherland has said that granting the field renaming request would set a precedent, saying that “if the precedence were set, our next meeting might fill the seats with community members advocating for a different past teacher, a current principal, or a retired staff member that touched their lives in a meaningful way to represent a different building, or another era.”
While the concern is duly noted, the debate that took place over the matter should spur the school board into considering a possible naming policy for school buildings, fields, and other facilities. Having such a policy in place would lay out for the school board the ground rules and protocols to follow when considering such requests, perhaps nipping in the bud possible future outcries relative to such propositions.