KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A new elementary school named after President Dwight D. Eisenhower has opened in his boyhood home of Abilene 46 years after he left office.
Parents considered Eisenhower as a name for an Abilene elementary school in the 1960s. But it wasn’t until Thursday that fourth- and fifth-grade students began classes in a building bearing the name of the 34th president and supreme Allied commander during World War II.
“It just seemed to be the thing to do,” school board vice president Barb Brittan said of naming the new, 38,000-square-foot, $7.4 million building Dwight D. Eisenhower Elementary School. “This was our opportunity to finally have a school building with his name on it.”
At least 80 others schools are named after Eisenhower, including one in Ecuador, said Samantha Kenner, a spokeswoman for the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, where Eisenhower moved when he was 2. She said the institution was “thrilled” that Abilene had a school named after the late president, who died in 1969.
The school that some parents wanted to name Eisenhower decades earlier was ultimately named after President John Kennedy following his 1963 assassination. The decision was made in part because the district had a tradition of naming its elementary schools after assassinated presidents. The district hadn’t built a new elementary school since then.
Some community members had asked over the years to change the name of an already established school to Eisenhower, but the board was reluctant to do so, said Abilene School District Superintendent Denise Guy.
“In building a new one it was a great opportunity to name it Dwight D. Eisenhower,” Guy said. “We are extremely proud to be in a community where we raised a president, and he participated in our educational system.”
The new school is part of a $24.2 million bond issue approved by voters in November 2014. It replaces the smaller Garfield School, which was built as a project of the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal-era federal agency.
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