Resolution introduced to consider renaming Thousand Oaks Elementary School after Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris
Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons
On Monday, Berkeley City Councilmember Sophie Hahn proposed a resolution that would rename Thousand Oaks Elementary School after alumna Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Harris attended the elementary school as part of the second cohort in Berkeley Unified School District’s busing program. (Photo by Gage Skidmore under CC BY CC0 1.0.)

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Berkeley City Councilmember Sophie Hahn introduced a resolution Monday to consider renaming Thousand Oaks Elementary School after Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Harris, who lived in Berkeley and attended Thousand Oaks Elementary School, will be the nation’s first woman, Black woman, Indian American and Asian American vice president. Harris was a part of the second cohort to integrate into Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, schools as a part of its busing program.

“It really shows that the grand experiment of integration people pinned their hopes on was a great experiment that inspired people to achieve public office and change,” Hahn said “This was an important part of what shaped her desire to find a way to make change and progress for our country, so I think it’s really important. I think it’s a huge endorsement of the values that our community has held very dear for decades.”

Hahn added that she attended Berkeley schools around the same time as Harris and was also inspired by school integration.

In a statement Monday, BUSD Superintendent Brent Stephens congratulated Harris on her election as vice president, adding that the district was “deeply proud” of her achievement. Stephens also noted that Harris credits her first grade teacher at Thousand Oaks Elementary School, Frances Wilson, as having a large influence on her life.

“Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris demonstrates that with a focus on education, equity, perseverance and personal grit, students around the country, and right here in Berkeley, can rise to help lead a nation,” Stephens said in the press release.

Hahn’s resolution calls on BUSD to rename Thousand Oaks Elementary School as “Kamala Harris Elementary.” According to BUSD spokesperson Trish McDermott, BUSD has not undergone a process to rename the school as of press time.

According to Hahn, the renaming process is up to the city, and she does not wish to “overstep” her authority.

Thousand Oaks Elementary School has already honored Kamala Harris in a mural at the school alongside other women leaders. The mural was painted by artist Miriam Klein Stahl and students in the Arts and Humanities Academy at Berkeley High School, according to the BUSD press release.

Hahn added that Harris’ election is a “watershed moment” for the United States that is worthy of recognition. Renaming Thousand Oaks Elementary School would be a “small but important” gesture toward this occasion, Hahn said.

“Our newly elected Vice President, Kamala Harris, is paving the way for our young girls to believe that we are capable of reaching our dreams,” said Jacqueline Parker, principal of Thousand Oaks Elementary School, in the BUSD press release. “We are following her very closely as she continues to excel as a leader.”

Robson Swift is a city government reporter. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @swift_robson.