The fate of Northside Elementary’s name will be determined Tuesday by the El Campo ISD school board as they consider renaming the school after Medal of Honor recipient Master Sgt. Roy P. Benavidez or to make no change.
Rhonda Svatek, a local serving in the U.S. Navy, said she would be disappointed if the school were to be named after Benavidez.
“Naming yet another thing in El Campo under his name is a slap in the face to others who deserve to be recognized,” she said.
Svatek brought up the other memorial in El Campo already designated in Benavidez’ honor, a portion of State Highway 71, saying she would prefer the school be named something dedicated to all El Campo veterans.
“It’s always going to be something else,” Svatek said. “Let’s name this after him, let’s name that, let’s name the library. It’s never going to be enough.”
El Campoan Robert Guerrero is in favor of changing Northside to Benavidez. Guerrero’s son, who currently serves in the U.S. Army as a cavalry scout, was headed for prison, according to Guerrero, until he heard Benavidez’ story and was inspired to turn his life around.
“I’m in favor of anything that would take our children and give them inspiration,” Guerrero said. “Give them hope. Give them a dream.”
He is thankful for every veteran’s service to this country, but earning a Medal of Honor and serving as a Green Beret are big accomplishments, Guerrero said.
“To have someone who comes from our town and that accomplished so much as Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez has, we should definitely honor that and hold that true to our hearts,” Guerrero said.
The ECISD school board will approach the agenda item with diligence, according to School Board President James Russell.
An individual board member’s opinion will not outweigh other board members’ when making this decision, Russell said.
“I have worked with this board long enough to know that each member will give any item brought before the board careful thought and consideration,” Russell said. “I am sure that this agenda item will be no different.”
A naming committee of 11 people, selected by the board, discussed other suggestions such as titling the school after E.A. Greer, who was the namesake for the West End high school before desegregation. Ultimately, the committee agreed on the two options they presented to the school board.
“I appreciate the naming committee’s willingness to donate their time and energy to ECISD for this specific task,” Russell said. “Those who volunteered worked efficiently together to accomplish their task.”
Should a change be made, the board will a establish a timeline for implementing the new name at the meeting.