Portland's Hall School may be renamed after longtime nurse

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PORTLAND — A committee looking into renaming Hall Elementary School is recommending either no change, or possibly naming the new, nearly $30 million school in honor a former longtime Hall nurse.

The School Board will hold a public hearing on the renaming at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 12, at Casco Bay High School. A final vote is expected at the board’s April 24 meeting.

Laurie Davis, the School Board member heading up the renaming committee, said Monday very little is known about Fred P. Hall, other than what’s in his obituary, which does not include the date he died. Davis is now reaching out to the community to see if any additional information can be gathered.

What the School Department has learned about Hall is that he was the Deering School District superintendent, a former president of the Portland Teachers Association and head of the history department at Deering High School.

Hall School, which was built in 1956, was originally named Glenwood Square, a moniker that had meaning to the local neighborhood; it was renamed in Hall’s honor after his death.

In a prior interview Davis said the School Board doesn’t have to rename the school, but it could.

At a workshop last week, Davis said the School Board talked in general about what goes into the naming of a school and why renaming Hall, with its brand new start, might be important.

Under board policy, a school name must preserve or honor history, be place-specific, or honor someone who made an outstanding contribution to teaching and learning, among other criteria.

In reaching out for public input, which also included an online survey, several people advocated on behalf of school nurse Amanda Rowe, who died in 2013 from breast cancer.

In addition to being a school nurse at Hall for more than 20 years, Rowe was also the nurse coordinator for the Portland Public Schools. In that role, she successfully lobbied for several initiatives, including the creation of school-based health clinics.

Rowe, who was married to former Maine Attorney General Steven Rowe, who now heads the Maine Community Foundation, made headlines in 2007 when she called for middle school students to have access to prescription birth control without parental consent.

Her obituary said “she was a passionate and tireless advocate for children and families.”

While there has been some support for renaming Hall School for Rowe, there doesn’t appear to be a widespread call for doing so, according to Davis. She said whether to change the school’s name is ultimately up to the School Board.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or [email protected]. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Amanda Rowe was a longtime school nurse at Hall Elementary School in Portland, as well as the nurse coordinator for the Portland Public Schools. Some people have suggested the new Hall School be named in her honor.