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Fairfax County Public Schools is breaking with the tradition of naming middle schools for famous authors and poets, and has instead opted for a more regional feel.

The School Board voted April 26 during a regular meeting to name a new middle school in the southern part of the county “South County Middle School.”

The school system allows communities to vote on potential names, which are forwarded as recommendations to the Fairfax County School Board for a final vote.

South County Middle School will open in September and help relieve crowding at South County Secondary School, which serves middle and high school students.

“I have to admit I never would have explored the work of Joyce Kilmer had I never attended Kilmer Middle School [in Vienna],” said School Board member Ryan McElveen (At-large). “I strongly support this tradition which inspires our students to explore literature that they otherwise probably would never see. I hope in the future our community will embrace this approach to school naming. But for tonight, I guess, we are all South County.”

Among the proposed names for the middle school were Nike, Dr. Seuss and some local heroes and historical figures.

“More than 60 percent of the people who voted in that survey expressed a commitment to call that new middle school South County Middle School,” said School Board member Dan Storck (Mount Vernon District). “That vote was after a community meeting where we had strong support, in fact the largest amount of support, for the name ‘Harold J. Wilson.’”

Wilson was a Poet Laureate of Lorton who died in 2002, but has a Facebook page dedicated to community efforts to get a school named after him. South County Secondary School opened in 2005 and crowding became a concern almost immediately, Storck said.

Groundbreaking for construction began March 20, 2010, at the middle school site.

Although naming the school after a region of the county breaks with tradition, it offers the community a benefit of identity.

“This has become the identity of the community,” said School Board member Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield District). “As a Robinson [Secondary School] parent … I have a seventh-grade Ram, who turns into an eighth-grade Ram who turns into a ninth- through 12th-grade Ram. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. So I hope you all enjoy it and get all your orders in for all your spirit gear.”

hhobbs@fairfaxtimes.com