New high school’s name would honor history, but is it too friendly?

snagem@newsobserver.comAugust 1, 2013 

RALEIGH

  • About Friendship

    Friendship was founded in southwest Wake County in the mid-1800s, when several Native-American families migrated from West Virginia, said local historian Toby Holleman, who co-wrote the book “Pluck, Perseverance and Paint.”

    Whites, slaves and descendents of free African-Americans were already living in the community. Hoping to avoid conflict, they all got together for a powwow and agreed to call the area Friendship, according to Holleman’s book.

    It’s unclear how many people now live in Friendship, nestled off Old U.S. 1. But the number likely doesn’t exceed 500. The area has remained rural.

    Staff writer Aliana Ramos

— Some people say the likely name of a new local high school – “Apex Friendship High” – is a little too, well, friendly.

By Wednesday afternoon, more than 430 people had signed a petition on the website change.org that urges the Wake County school board to opt for the name “West Apex High” instead of Apex Friendship High.

The word “Friendship” was included in the name to honor the historic Friendship community, where the new school will be located.

But Cyndi Edgington, 43, an Apex parent who started the online petition, thinks “friendship” just doesn’t fit with a high school.

“The word ‘friendship’ conjures up certain images for all of us,” she said. “Happiness, rainbows, butterflies, smiley faces. Which I don’t think are bad. ... I just don’t think it’s appropriate to have a high school using that sort of moniker.”

Some people clearly agree. Edgington said she posted the petition Monday night, and it quickly gained signatures.

“Is it not obvious?” Suzanne Pio of Apex wrote on the petition website. “Would you want to go to a HS named Friendship High? Can you say laughing stock of the county?!?!?!”

“West Apex is more appropriate for a high school in this day and age of competitive academics and athletics,” wrote Lori Mignano of Apex. “College recruiters and administrators will form an opinion about this school based on its name.”

Potential names for the school have gotten plenty of attention. West Apex High was the early contender, and it even got the blessing of the Apex Town Council.

But then more than 350 people signed a petition earlier this year asking the school board to include the name of Friendship, a rural, unincorporated community off Old U.S. 1. Friendship formed in the mid-1800s as a peaceful place for whites, blacks and Native Americans to coexist, according to local history books.

Apex has grown so much over the years that the town could one day pull Friendship into its borders, said Sheila Morrison, who lives in the nearby New Hill community.

“Friendship will be incorporated into Apex,” said Morrison, 59. “And there will be nothing with Friendship on it.”

That’s why Morrison signed the petition months ago to honor the community where she now attends church.

Initially, supporters like Morrison asked for the school to be called Friendship High. But they compromised, Morrison said, and were OK with including Apex in the name.

The school board is expected to vote Tuesday on the names of three new high schools, including the Apex school.

School board member Susan Evans said she’s gotten feedback from supporters of both name options in Apex, along with other alternatives.

“It’s really all over the place, and I don’t think there’s going to be a win-win solution,” Evans said.

Eric Weller, 41, has three young children who could eventually attend the new school. He’s hoping for West Apex High.

The western stretch of Apex has waited a long time for its own school, he said.

“There’s going to be very few students who attend that school from Friendship,” Weller said. “There’s going to be thousands of students from Apex.”

But that doesn’t mean the school should ignore the history of Friendship, said Edgington, whose children could also attend the new school.

The school’s library, auditorium or gymnasium could be named to honor the community, Edgington said.

“I think there are many ways,” she said. “With all the creativity in our community, I think we can find a way to incorporate Friendship.”

Staff writer Aliana Ramos contributed to this report.

Nagem: 919-460-2605; Twitter: @BySarahNagem

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