One Pasadena Unified middle school proves that a name can have meaning and that change can be a good thing. Going forward, Washington Middle School will be known as Octavia E. Butler Magnet, a bilingual STEAM middle school. The name change became official during a ceremony at the school on Thursday, September 15.
“This evening is not just a name change. This is the kind of change that Octavia believes should start with education, change that could be sparked by dedicated teachers and fueled by a school community. Ultimately, this is about change that I know will come from all the amazing kids who see Octavia as a role model and can learn from her legacy,” said Pasadena Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Brian McDonald. .
Octavia E. Butler was a renowned science fiction author who began some of her earliest novels at Washington Junior High School. She graduated from John Muir High School in 1965 and became a literary legacy. Despite the obstacles of poverty and a learning disability, she achieved top honors in science fiction writing.
Hazel Vukojevich, PHS student in grade 9, recent EPO graduate, designed the new oak logo. Hazel said it’s important for kids to be proud to say their school’s name, and Octavia E. Butler Magnet more closely aligns with the values of her alma mater.
“Octavia E Butler pursued science, literature and change. She believed in equality and betterment and cared about the future. I feel like our new name represents the future of our school and who we want to be,” Vukojevich added.
At the ceremony, which was attended by students, teachers, parents and elected officials, Dr. Shannon Malone, Principal of K-12 Schools at PUSD and former Principal of Octavia E. Butler Magnet, read a letter written by Octavia E. Butler in 2000 to President Bill Clinton in response to his request for some of our country’s “greatest thinkers” to predict the vision of our future. She says that education can change everything.
“Mr. President: Education, of course, is the key to any hope we have of a comfortable and prosperous future… Education at its best teaches us to keep learning and therefore to face whatever what the future holds… Who we become depends a lot on what we do now and how we educate the poorest and seemingly least promising among us.
Shylo Hightower, a student at Octavia E Butler, is empowered by the school’s new namesake.
“As an African-American woman in the 21st century, I think it’s very important for people like me to have leadership. I’m honored to say I’m going to Octavia E. Butler Magnet,” said Hightower.