Committee proposes nine names for middle schools

Photos are from the archives of the Palo Alto Historical Association and PaloAltoHistory.org.

BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer

Jordan and Terman middle schools in Palo Alto could soon bear the name of a Silicon Valley luminary, the 19th-century “mother of Palo Alto schools” or a glass ceiling-breaking Stanford mathematician.

The Palo Alto school board decided in March to rename both schools because both of their namesakes, David Starr Jordan and Lewis Terman, advocated for eugenics. The Recommending School Names Advisory Committee has narrowed down a list of community recommendations to seven people and two geographic names, which they will present to the school board on March 13.

Bicycling advocate

Ellen Fletcher, a Berlin-born Holocaust survivor, served on Palo Alto City Council for 12 years starting in 1977, but was never chosen to serve as mayor.

Fletcher, an environmentalist, was known to ride her bike with a trailer everywhere she went, including to council meetings. The city officially named Bryant Street the Ellen Fletcher Bicycle Boulevard.

Fletcher made her way to the U.S. in 1946 and to Palo Alto in 1959. She started advocating for bicycling as the safety chair of her local PTA from 1971 to 1974. She continued to ride her bike until shortly before her death of lung cancer on Nov. 7, 2012 at age 83.

A Fairchild engineer

Frank Greene was one of the first prominent black engineers in Silicon Valley. He developed high-speed semiconductor computer memory systems at Fairchild Semiconductor.

According to the Greene Scholars Program, Greene was among the first black students to attend Washington University in St. Louis, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.

He held a doctorate in electrical engineering from Santa Clara University and a master’s degree from Purdue University. He served four years in the U.S. Air Force and became an Air Force captain.

He taught electrical engineering and computer science courses at Stanford, Santa Clara and Howard universities. Greene died in 2009 at age 71.

The Hewlett in Hewlett-Packard

Bill Hewlett co-founded Hewlett-Packard with David Packard in a garage at 367 Addison Ave. in 1939. Ironically, the two were engineering students of Fred Terman, whose father Lewis is of the namesakes the school district is seeking to leave behind.

The founding of Hewlett-Packard is considered to be one of the most important events in the history of Silicon Valley.

City’s first woman doctor

Edith Johnson was the first woman doctor in Palo Alto. She opened a medical practice in town in 1907. By the time she retired, she had delivered 3,500 babies, according to the Palo Alto Historical Association. Johnson died in 1966. She is already memorialized at Dr. Edith Eugenie Johnson Park at 268 Waverley St.

Fields Medalist

Maryam Mirzakhani was a theoretical mathematician at Stanford. In 2014, she became the first woman to win the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics, since its inception in 1936.
The Fields Medal is often equated in stature with the Nobel Prize, according to Stanford.

Mirzakhani joined the Stanford faculty in 2009. She died on July 14 at the age of 40 after a battle with breast cancer that had spread to her liver and bones.

Held in internment camp

Fred Yamamoto, a 1936 Palo Alto High School graduate, was held in Japanese internment camps in World War II, then died in combat.

Verde Magazine, a student publication at Palo Alto High School, reported in 2016 that Yamamoto was interned during World War II at the Santa Anita detention facility in Southern California and Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.

He enlisted in the military while at Heart Mountain and died in combat in France at age 26.

Mother of city’s schools

Anna Zschokke was a widowed German mother of three who lived in the first house built on Homer Street in the 19th century. She’s been dubbed Palo Alto’s first resident and the “mother of the Palo Alto schools” after she mortgaged her house, bought a lot and hired a contractor to build a three-room schoolhouse for high-schoolers.

The school board could also opt for the geographic names: Adobe Creek Middle School for Terman and Redwood Grove Middle School for Jordan. Adobe Creek, which flows from the Santa Cruz Mountains to the San Francisco Bay, grazes Terman at 655 Arastradero Road.

The photos in this story are from the archives of the Palo Alto Historical Association and PaloAltoHistory.org.

7 Comments

  1. Political correctness and historical revisionism rule the day. The only name on this list I can support is Hewlett. Fletcher was a nuisance on council and was never able to work with her colleagues. That’s probably why she didn’t become mayor. Her insistence on bike lanes in busy streets puts the lives of bikers in danger. Bike lanes are OK, but not in traffic. The school board should tell this committee to go back and come up with a better list. Or better yet, leave Terman and Jordan on the schools!

    • Agreed. The liberal nazi mentality has stripped the mind set of Palo Alto. The Palo Alto government is hands down the worst on the peninsula but they have a whole lot of cash from taxes to spend at their disposal. I’m a former liberal born and raised in Palo Alto. You can’t re-write history!

  2. Ever wonder why there are no gas stations and very few car repair places in downtown Palo Alto. Fletcher pushed zoning to force those guys out of downtown. Now you have to take your car to Mountain View or Sunnyvale to get it repaired. I don’t think most people appreciated that!

    • Agreed. Excellent point and factual. It’s people like us who need to start running for city of Palo Alto government but don’t tell them that you are not a liberal, act like one then when you get into office start voting against the liberal nazi agenda.

  3. Presumably the PAUSD board has known for many years about the pasts of Terman and Jordan. Why are these namesakes being kicked to the curb now? Why not in 1990 or 2000? Eugenics wasn’t a secret movement. I wonder if this is an attempt by some preening liberals on the school board to be trendy. We don’t have confederate statues in Palo Alto, so this name change is the next best thing in their minds.

  4. Isn’t it enough for Fletcher’s fans to have her name on a street in Palo Alto? And when some biker gets hit by a car on her famous bike boulevard, have you ever noticed how in the Police Blotter, they never refer to it as the Ellen Fletcher Bike Boulevard? It’s always called Bryant Street.

  5. Agreed that the names should remain. Virtue-signaling PC progressives are hell-bent on destroying the legacies of men whose achievements they could never hold a candle to. The founding president of Stanford and the “father of Silicon Valley”, two more evil, white, founding fathers condemned to the memory hole. Hewlett is the only non-diversity token on that list. First woman, first black, oppressed minority, blah blah blah, ENOUGH!

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