Q: How did Parkland High School get its name?

J.J.

Answer: When a new high school, which would consolidate the students from Gray and Griffith senior highs, was first being discussed in 1964, the City-County Board of Education and the parent teacher associations from both schools debated various options.

They didn’t want to name it after either of the existing schools since the idea was to merge the two schools equally.

“Old rivalries, traditions and names should be dropped, the new school should have a new start, “ as a November 1964 article in the Twin City Sentinel, the city’s afternoon newspaper at the time, put it.

One possibility was to call it South Forsyth Senior High, but according to an October 1964 report in the Sentinel, “a check for community sentiment yesterday turned up a strong conclusion: The Gray and Griffith communities balk at a ‘compass point’ name for the new building. Such names have been given to the three newest senior high schools in the system — East, North and West. Civic organizations, PTAs and other groups in the community are going to be asked to send name suggestions to the school board.”

Among the guidelines were that if the school was to be named after an individual, the person being considered had to be dead and the name “must be fully supported by the sentiment of the community in which the school is located.”

One complaint raised about calling the school South was that the name was “too ordinary” with “no distinction, “ with one student remarking that “it would be fine to call us South if they’ll rename Reynolds ‘Central.’” But there were some supporters of calling it “South.”

During the name-vetting process, three lead contenders emerged — Parkland, Wachovia or Rights, which would have taken its name from Pastor Douglas L. Rights, who died in 1956 and had been well-respected in both the Gray and Griffith communities.

Parkland emerged as a front-runner, in part because so many other things had Wachovia in their name. The name, according to one newspaper article, came “out of the clear blue sky.”

Some people said the name was inspired by the name of the Dallas hospital in which President John F. Kennedy died and was considered as a tribute to the assassinated president, but “it did not originate from that at all, “ the president of the Gray PTA, Mrs. Rayford Vogler, said.

Another theory was that the name was inspired by the new school’s proximity to Parkway Plaza shopping center.

At first the name Park Lane was considered, but it “sounded like a highway coming through,” Vogler said. “And the site for the school is such a beautiful tract of land — like a park.”

The name was modified to Parkland, which Vogler said “sounds like something you enjoy as a park.”

“The whole community has been stirred up over this thing,” school Superintendent Marvin Ward said. “But I basically believe Parkland is the one name they believe all of the community could get together on.”

The name was selected at a December 1964 meeting of the school board, and that spring students set out deciding on the school colors and mascot, the Mustang, which a March 1965 Sentinel article explained was “a small, hardy, half wild horse.”

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