Prince Andrew High School taking name change discussion to online forum

Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth, N.S., is launching an online survey to get community feedback on whether the school should consider a name change.

The school, commonly referred to as P.A., was named in 1960 after the now-disgraced Prince Andrew of the Royal Family.

Late last year, a woman accused Prince Andrew of having sex with her when she was 17. The controversy forced Andrew to step down from his royal duties on Nov. 20.

At a school advisory council meeting on Monday, school principal Brad McGowan explained how the process of gathering feedback online will work.

Using an interface called Thoughtexchange, people can submit their opinions, read other people’s opinions and rate them. The program uses artificial intelligence to group common themes and topics together.

Brad McGowan is the principal at Prince Andrew High School. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

“[It will] have what I hope are sort of opportunities to reflect and have this transparent way to say, ‘This is what I’m thinking, this is what other people are thinking, this is what’s important to me,'” McGowan said.

All users will remain anonymous, but participation in the online forum will be invite-only. McGowan said that will include current students, staff, faculty, parents/guardians, as well as people in the surrounding community and alumni.

“While I’m very aware that there are passionate voices on either side of this question, the only voice that matters to me as the principal of P.A., is the voice of the people that are part of the greater P.A. community,” McGowan said.

Belinda Oxner, the chair of Prince Andrew’s school advisory council, said she thinks the name should be changed.

“No public establishment should be named after a living individual,” she said. “You can’t determine what their future actions are going to be … it should be a standard policy.”

Belinda Oxner is the chair of Prince Andrew’s school advisory council. She thinks the school’s name should change. (Brooklyn Currie/CBC)

Despite her personal feelings, Oxner said it’s crucial to get public input before making any decisions.

“If we don’t engage with the community before we move forward, it will just lead to greater debate at a later date,” she said.

McGowan said there’s no deadline for possibly changing the name.

“Nothing is going to happen unless, or until, I can with confidence say, ‘This is what the community wants to do,'” McGowan said.

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