Could Chester A. Arthur sub?Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Somewhere prior to completion, the company making the marquee sign for the new public school in Ogden, Utah, fielded a phone call. Stop everything, the caller said; you need to change it. Even though the school board had voted 6 to 1 back in May to name the building in honor of the fourth president of the US, now it no longer was to be known as James A. Madison Elementary. And it was imperative that the marquee not say so. But why? Had new research turned up some misdeed that made the historical figure unworthy of recognition? No. An alert teacher at another school had simply pointed out to principal-in-waiting Ross Lunceford that Madison, the "Father of the Constitution" and cofounder of the Republican Party, had ... no middle name. No big deal, you say? Yeah, that's how school board president Don Belknap saw it, too – and he was a history major in college. "We'll just take the 'A' out," he told reporters. Doing so didn't involve only the sign, however. Letterhead also needed to be replaced, as well as the message on the telephone answering machine in the office. Unlike Belknap, school board member John Gullo wasn't as inclined to laugh off the situation. "Coming from educators, that's a pretty bad mistake," he grumped. Then again, Gullo also heads a patriotic foundation that has donated a $600 portrait of Madison to the school, along with a plaque that enumerates his accomplishments. Fortunately, neither of them has the initial "A" on it.