Another conversation starter: Carrie Busey

I usually try not to advertise too strongly that I have a vested interest at Carrie Busey; at least, not on this blog. I think it is more because I want the focus of this space to cover many different aspects of Unit 4. Having said that, there is some exciting stuff happening in and around Carrie Busey. It has to do with what to call the new school building in Savoy.


I realize some community folks still have some residual negativity towards a “south of University” school being built in what some consider a middle- to upper-middle-class neighborhood. Still others are like “Savoy? You mean those [insert adjective] folks who voted against the MTD and don’t want to pay any taxes?”. And still, “Savoy? Where’s that?” 


To those of us who live in Prairie Fields and have a child at Carrie Busey (and even for some that only match one of those criteria), this is a big deal. For everyone else, you might be wondering what all the brouhaha is about. In the larger scope of things, the name of the school is probably not that big of an issue – 6 years from now when the 2012 Kindergartner’s will be thinking about Middle School, I highly doubt anyone will acknowledge this little bit of excitement. So why am I making a post about it? Much less attaching “Conversation starter” to it? I will tell you.


It has to do with how people communicate. Or rather, how entities and groups communicate. Right now, there are several different entities wanting to express an opinion and hope to hold some sway. There are residents and CB staff who passionately want to keep the name with the people. There are Village officials who are interested in naming the school after the neighborhood. There is the sentiment that the woman for whom the school is named would “roll over in her grave” if the her name were painted off the current building which bears it. And then we have a Home Owner’s Association and a PTA that desire to represent their constituents. Which is where things get to be interesting. And all these folks want the ear of the Superintendent and the School Board. Oh, and as if we needed another twist to keep things interesting, incoming parents will be choosing which school they wish their child to attend in March. One month from now.


And finally, the punchline. I am excited because we are organizing an open forum to discuss this. The HOA, the Village of Savoy, the Board, the Superintendent, the building staff, the residents, the parents…. they will all be invited to sit down at the same table and hash things out. I hope Arlene Blank makes an appearance as well (providing that historical perspective, especially in light of her first-hand relationship with the woman Carrie Busey). People are going to have different thoughts, different viewpoints. They will be passionate, possible in different directions. In my opinion, it is important to hear those. To reiterate and say it differently, it is important to not shut out those other voices, but instead to convince people that they have worth and their opinions matter. And frankly, yes, it will probably be messy, and maybe not even appear to accomplish much. Maybe it will come off as lots of people make a really big fuss over such a small thing. Maybe. But if we get different people together and are able to enter into a dialectical conversation, then “mission accomplished”.


Forgive me for being somewhat Utopian and idealistic. But this is where I am at right now. Let me know if you disagree. 🙂

4 Responses to “Another conversation starter: Carrie Busey”

  1. Dana Williams Says:

    Oooh, a conversation! I’m a Savoy resident and a parent of a CB kindergartener and I asked him what he thought about the idea of going to Prairie Fields Elementary. His response was, “Mom, we don’t live in Prairie Fields. I want it to stay Carrie Busey.” He has name brand loyalty at age 5. 🙂

    But he had a good point in the fact that although the school may have Proximity A and may be highly chosen by the Savoy neighborhoods, as Savoy grows (as it currently being surveyed to do so in my backyard) less PF people may get access to that school. Naming it anything to do with Savoy is problematic because it’s not a Savoy school. It’s a Unit 4 school, and there will always be children from Champaign in the school, which is a very, very good thing.

    It also got me to wondering if the Busey family had any issue with taking the name to a new building. Not that they know what’s going to happen with the current building in a few years after Westview and Bottenfield are done with their reconstruction. If there was issue with taking the name put forth by the folks who knew Carrie Busey best, then a new name makes sense.

    But if the new building were to have a new name, I would hope it would have a name that is more original than whatever random home construction wizard selector Signature Homes used to select a name for the development 15 years ago. Wouldn’t it be better to rename a school after a person who inspires learning and intellectual curiosity or was a wonderful civic leader? Maybe a name attached to a real person for children to aspire to or at least recognize the greatness of possibility?

  2. charlesdschultz Says:

    Dana, thanks for the input from x-man, he makes a good point. 🙂

    A quick glance at current elementary school names:

    Barkstall: The full name of the school is Vernon L. Barkstall, an influential black man who, among many other things, co-founded an all-black radio station, WBCP (and yes, I googled that, as with all the others)
    Bottenfield: “B. O. Bottenfield was a teacher at Champaign Senior High School from 1929-1949” (from the Bottenfield website): can’t find much else
    BTW: Booker T. Washington, has quite a few biographies and a good wikipedia entry.
    Carrie Busey: “Named in honor of a longtime school district employee” (school website)
    Dr. Howard: Not finding any single source that tells me who the school was named after.
    Garden Hills: named for the subdivision it is a part of. No idea where the hills are, though. 🙂
    Kenwood: Officially in the “Holiday Parks” subdivision, which is a part of the Kenwood neighborhood. Not sure for whom the neighborhood is named after – rather ambiguous.
    Robeson: Again, really ambiguous – I am pretty sure the name of the school comes from geography, but I have not been able to confirm that, yet.
    South Side: The south side of what? I really need to visit a time machine to see what the district looked like in 1924.
    Stratton: “The school is named for Kenneth O. Stratton, a long time Unit 4 employee and former Champaign City Council member.” The school webpage actually has quite a bit of detail – good info
    Westview: See Stratton, but 1951

    Out of 11 schools, 6 were clearly named after a person, 4 were name after places. All three of the middle schools are named after people, while the high schools are not (at all).

    It would be interesting to get feedback from school historians (we have a few around).

    Dana, thanks again for your thoughts on this matter.

  3. jamom Says:

    Robeson Park (next to Robeson ES)has a sign that says it was named after someone… and at this exact moment, all I can remember about the sign is that it says, “He was a merchant”. (Which makes me laugh for reasons that I will never be able to explain.)

    And as a newbie to this town, *Barkstall* is named after an African American?! Wow.Talk about rolling over in your grave…

    I really hope it stays CB or they find another deserving individual to name the school after.

  4. charlesdschultz Says:

    Some discussions are starting to happen.

    Facebook (Julee Lee public note): (seeded by Julee’s letter):

    In addition, the Carrie Busey PTA will allot a small window at the end of the next meeting for this discussion. The Unit 4 Board has been invited to attend (no confirmation as of yet). The PTA meeting is Tuesday, Feb 21 at 7:pm in the Carrie Busey Multipurpose room.

    Lastly, WICD has interviewed at least two individuals and the segment is supposed to run tonight at 6.

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