ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – It’s a moment Sami Haiman-Marrero will forever remember, seeing the name of Roberto Clemente at what was formally known as Stonewall Jackson Middle School.
The school, which had a name tied to a Confederate general, was recently renamed after the Latin-American and Caribbean Hall of Famer.
“He was Latino, but also he was a citizen of the world and he was a great, great, humanitarian and philanthropist, so I think he really epitomizes the spirit not only of the community but of humankind,” Haiman-Marrero said, a Hispanic community activist.
Born in Puerto Rico, Clemente played Major League Baseball in the United States while also doing charity work in the 1950s and ’60s.
Unfortunately, Clemente was killed in a plane crash while trying to deliver relief supplies in Nicaragua after an earthquake in 1972.
It was his story that prompted Orange County School Board Member Johanna Lopez to push for a change.
So she asked students to provide their input and do some research to get the ball rolling.
“The educational part of this process is what made this change of the name so special because it’s not only been community leaders, it’s not only school board members who unanimously decided on the change, it’s also the students actively participating in this process,” Lopez explained.
Lopez said the majority of students at Roberto Clemente Middle School are Hispanic and 43% are Hispanic in the district.
She’s hoping this new change is the beginning of what the future can bring.
“I feel very proud to have a school named after Roberto Clemente. I think we are making history and we are making history together. That’s very, very crucial and important in Orange County Public Schools,” Lopez said.
According to principal Betzabeth Reussow, signs with the school’s new name have been ordered and will be placed inside and outside the campus.