The Point After

Naming new Apex, Cary high schools means finding a fit

July 6, 2013 

Sports Editor J. Mike Blake.

Shakespeare had a point. A rose would indeed still smell as good if we gave it another name.

Twelve of them would still be a go-to choice for Valentine’s Day even if we called them doorbells or dolphins.

But “rose” just seems to fit, right?

The Wake County school board is preparing to name new high schools in Apex and Cary. Apex will welcome its new school in 2015. The Cary school will open in 2017.

A name won’t dictate the quality of the schools’ English departments or football teams. But finding a good fit is important.

There are two rules when picking out a good high school name: First, be original. (This applies to future mascot names as well). Nobody wants to go to a directional school (or sign up to be another Eagle, Bulldog, Falcon or Trojan) with a shared identity if it’s not 100 percent essential.

Second, make good use of the area’s history. Extra significance and good background stories are major pluses.

In Apex, the new school was expected to be called West Apex High. Milquetoast.

But that location has a past that seemingly few people had known about.

The community on the outskirts of Apex is called Friendship, named because blacks, whites and Native Americans lived peacefully in the area. This was no small feat – it was before abolition.

Friendship once had its own school. It’s unclear if this is the same school, but a Friendship High is listed as a multiple state champion in track and field during the 1920s.

It seems like a no-brainer to revive that name – and put a memorial on the school’s campus.

So Apex town leaders sorta went with it and agreed to propose a name change to something like Apex Friendship High.

It has some significance, but it sounds awkward and looks like it could use a hyphen.

It’s still not the best fit, and besides, there is no real reason to have Apex in the name.

I know folks may wonder if the name Friendship sounds menacing enough to be taken seriously in sports. Nearby Green Hope High had a similar situation.

When it opened in 1999, Green Hope brought back the name of the school that had burned in 1968.

Does Green Hope sound menacing? Not unless you’re frightened by the color of one’s hope.

Does it get made fun of? Opponents have been chanting “no hope” for the past 14 years.

Should Green Hope have picked a different name? Absolutely not.

Do you know how awesome it is to see a piece of the original Green Hope High School’s scoreboard in the new Green Hope High School gym?

Meanwhile, four names have been presented for Cary’s new school.

White Oak High should be eliminated from contention, despite it being a nearby township name, because there’s already a White Oak High in Jacksonville (near the White Oak River).

Green Level High is no good either. There’s no Green Level High, but the incorporated town of Green Level is only an hour away in Alamance County.

Southwest Cary is not only a directional, but hard to distinguish for a community whose boundaries grow often. You don’t want to wind up like Southern Durham, which is east of that city.

Roberts Road High doesn’t get high marks in originality, but it certainly has the best fit.

Naming the school after proud Cary native and former N.C. High School Athletic Association president Charlie Adams would make sense too.

As we’ve seen with Middle Creek – a high school that pulls from five municipalities – a strong school community can be achieved no matter the make-up of the school.

The name won’t affect how well the community pulls together. It just has to feel right.

Not finding the right fit would also be Shakespearean – a tragedy.

Blake: 919-460-2606

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