Prince Andrew High School to canvas community on possible name change

Principal to introduce online forum for parents, alumni and neighbours

The Dartmouth high school named after scandal-struck Prince Andrew will soon invite community members to discuss whether or not to change its name.

The school’s principal, Brad McGowan, plans to launch an online survey. He’ll talk about the process and software at the school’s advisory council meeting on Monday.

“What I feel responsible for is to give the community a voice,” said McGowan.

The high school, with just under 800 students, was built in 1960, the same year Andrew, Duke of York, was born. He was embroiled in scandal late last year because of his ties to sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors for sex.

After that news broke, McGowan said he received phone calls and emails demanding a change to the school’s name. Many were “overwhelmingly” in favour of changing the name, but others wanted the school to keep it.

McGowan plans to gauge opinion on a possible name change by using Thought Exchange, an online software that allows people to answer questions and see the opinions of others. Alumni, parents and people in the school’s neighbourhood would be polled.

“In this case it would be those most impacted by the name of the school,” said McGowan.

That would include Brianne Murphy, who graduated from the high school in 2016. She would like to see the name changed.

“It’s idolizing someone who I don’t think should be idolized,” said Murphy.

British citizen Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleges she was forced into sex with Prince Andrew at the direction of Epstein, who died in his jail cell in New York last August. The Duke of York denied the allegations in an interview with the BBC, and has since stepped back from public duties.

The school on Woodlawn Road in Dartmouth was built in 1960, the year Prince Andrew was born.   Sam Gillett

McGowan said if the community seems in favour of a name change, a committee would be formed to look at the issue in depth and possibly suggest other names. The committee would send a report to the regional executive director of the Halifax Regional Centre of Education (HRCE) to review.

A similar process was used in 2011 when Cornwallis Junior High School was changed to Halifax Central Junior High.

McGowan hopes to have community members using Thought Exchange to voice their opinions by the school’s next advisory council meeting in February.

“I realize people want answers quickly, but the reality is that this is a long process,” said McGowan. “The last thing we want to do is have a knee-jerk reaction and not authentically reflect the community.”

Two Canadian organizations have distanced themselves from Prince Andrew.

Lakefield College School, northeast of Toronto, dropped the prince from its foundation board where he served as honorary chairman. SickKids hospital in Toronto ended its relationship with the prince’s charitable foundation in November.

Sam Gillett

Sam Gillett

Sam calls Orillia, Ontario home. When he's not chasing Signal stories, he can be found sketching in cafes, watching soccer or following news about professional motocross.

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3 comments

  1. The first principal of Prince Andrew, Gerald McCarthy, told us in a history class that you cannot change history. It is what it is. I spent three years there and was so proud of the school and my fellow students. This school graduated so many people who went on to be professionals, skilled workers, entrepreneurs and Mums and Dads. Whole families of children went there and got the skills for later on in life. This moment in time will be a blip in the history of the world and changing the name will serve no purpose. Will all the diplomas of past graduates be reissued with a new name? When naming new institutions in the future will they fall to the same fate if dirt is discovered on that individual? The Royal disgraced himself and his family and will pay the price and it won’t affect any of us graduates. The school is a living institution that is vibrant and is bigger than it’s namesake. Remember you cannot change history.

  2. When my brothers and I were at the school in the 70s and 80s, no one once asked or cared who Prince Andrew was. What we did was take ownership of the name and create our own legacy for the community and city of Dartmouth. This 15 minutes of recent fame will soon be forgotten, but it does not mean we should erase our history which seems to be the political flavour of the day. Leave the name, and when they build a new school they can choose a name that reflects the politics of that time. Most of the people squawking about name change did not even attend P.A.

  3. Prince Andrew Alumni 1976-78. Was proud of the school and the name but given the circumstances this royal family member should be stripped of this honor. I think the school should be named for the Lady Diana to honor her commitment to helping others.

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