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Board Approves Historic “Sylvia Mendez Newcomers School” Name

May 31, 2022 – The future High Point newcomer’s school will be the first in North Carolina named after a Latino person.

The Guilford County School Board of Education approved the name Sylvia Mendez Newcomers School during its work session Tuesday. The vote came after a 30-minute public hearing at the session, and 30-day public comment period. The board received overwhelming support for the name, which honors civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez.

Born in Santa Ana, Calif., Mendez’s parents moved the family to nearby Westminster. When her parents tried to register her and her siblings at a nearby public school, they were denied enrollment and told the children would have to enroll at a school specifically for Mexican-Americans.

This prompted her parents to file a federal lawsuit, Mendez v. Westminster, which was the precursor to Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.

“Her story is a story that Newcomer families can relate to,” wrote Grace K. Migui in a letter of support to the board. “Our students can relate to the challenges of attending school and feeling different because of where they or their parents originated. As someone who migrated to the United States as a young adult, and as the slated School Social Worker for the High Point Newcomers School, I understand the importance of having a sense of belonging. I believe that Sylvia Mendez will be a very fitting name for our school.”

The Sylvia Mendez Newcomers School in High Point is planned as a counterpart to the Doris Henderson Newcomer’s School in Greensboro.