Monticello Junior High School to be renamed in Paige’s honor

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 12, 2001

MONTICELLO — Monticello Junior High School will officiallychange its name to Rod Paige Middle School Wednesday during a visitby its new namesake.

Paige, a native of Lawrence County, was named President GeorgeBush’s Secretary of Education earlier this year.

“Monticello Junior High students will have the rare privilege ofhosting an assembly for a member of President George Bush’scabinet,” said Superintendent John Bull.

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Bull said the visit will include presentation of a resolutionrenaming the junior high school in honor of Paige.

Julie Wall, Bull’s executive secretary and organizer of theevent, said she hopes the community will be as excited about thevisit as the school district is.

“We’re very excited about his coming and really honored that hepicked Monticello Junior High out of all the schools in the statehe could be visiting,” she said. “I believe this is the only one hewill be visiting.”

Paige will arrive at the school around 10 a.m., Wall said, andbegin a tour of the school. During the tour, he will visit twoclasses and briefly observe some class instruction.

A school assembly at approximately 10:20 a.m. will give Paigethe opportunity to address the student body following anintroduction by Bull and MJH Principal James Ochenrider.

“Dr. Paige’s coming is an extraordinary opportunity for ourschool system and, indeed, the whole community,” Bull said. “From arural community in Mississippi, Secretary Paige has risen to thehighest educational position in the world. It is truly an honor anda privilege for him to visit us.”

Wall echoed the superintendent’s sentiments.

“I hope he serves as an inspiration to the students,” shesaid.

Several outdoor presentations following the assembly willhighlight the visit. Both the assembly and following outdoorpresentation are open to the public.

The school will be officially renamed during an unveiling of thenew school sign.

Another special presentation, Wall said, will be a $10,000donation by the American Association of School Administrators inhonor of Paige’s being named Superintendent of the Year last yearfor work he did as the top educator in the Houston (Texas) SchoolDistrict, one of the nation’s largest. The money will be awarded asa one-time scholarship to a Lawrence County student at a laterdate, once the guidelines for the award are established.

Unfortunately, Wall said, Paige will have to leave shortly afterthe outdoor presentations and will not be able to tour thecommunity nor meet with residents.

Paige intended to visit the town and school in February, shortlyafter he was appointed, but business in Washington D.C. kept fromkeeping the appointment.