School board votes to name new Easley school after Brice

By Nicole Daughhetee
Staff Reporter

EASLEY — J.C. Brice Middle School will be the name of the second middle school in Easley, following a 4-2 vote at Monday night’s SDPC Board Meeting. The name J.C. Brice was chosen from a pool of the top three, which also included Clearview Middle and Pendleton Street Middle.

District spokesman John Eby facilitated the Easley Middle School Naming Committee, which began on September 19.

Eby said that the naming process began with a public notice that the district was seeking input for the naming of the new school. Advertisements ran in local newspapers, and submission forms were sent home with students. Name submission forms noted that the board generally prefers to name a school for a geographic location, similar to Chastain Road Elementary, as opposed to being named for a person.

The SDPC received 175 name submissions by the October deadline. Of these, 72 suggested calling the new school Easley Middle School or Easley Junior High. However, committee members raised concerns that calling the new school Easley Middle could make Gettys seem like a second-class school or that it is in some way less connected to the Easley community.

Easley school board representative Judy Edwards, who served on the naming committee, suggested the name J.C. Brice because of the deeply rooted connection Brice had to the history of education in Easley and because the football field at the site of the school also bore Brice’s name for several decades.
School board trustee Jim Shelton, representing Dacusiville on the naming committee, offered Clearview Middle as a possible name for the middle school. Clearview, which was the segregated high school in Easley, eventually became the J.T. Simpson Alternative Center following desegregation.

Pendleton Street was offered as an idea because it followed the preference of naming schools for geographical locations.

In the end, J.C. Brice was the top choice with a total of 42 points, followed by Clearview with 21 points, and Pendleton Street with 19 points. SDPC Superintendent Dr. Kelly Pew recommended that the Board choose J.C. Brice, which was the first choice of the naming committee.

“The information I looked at when this was coming out was that the school not be named for a person,” school board trustee Ben Trotter said. “I’m sure Brice did a good job, but if we’re going to set a policy or put out what we’d like to happen, then why do we just drop it?

“You say you don’t want to name it after a person, then that’s what we turn around and do.”

Alex Saitta deferred judgment to Edwards and Shelton, who represent the Easley area.

“I’m not from Easley, so whatever you guys think is best is fine with me,” he said. “I think the bigger picture is do you want to start to go down that path of naming schools after people? I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not, but it’s obviously something mentioned somewhere.”

Shelton pointed out that there are currently seven schools in the district named after prominent people in Pickens County. Hagood, Ambler, A.R. Lewis, R.C. Edwards, Daniel and Gettys, and what was once the Skelton Career Center have all been named in recognition of individual people.

Dr. Herb Cooper said that J.C. Brice Middle was a complementary name to Gettys Middle.

“You have one school named after Dick Gettys and one named J.C. Brice. They are comparable,” he said. “You have two prominent educators from Easley — one is Mr. Brice and one is Mr. Gettys. That just makes sense to me as an outsider looking in.”

Edwards agreed with Cooper.

“That was part of the discussion during one of our meetings. Mr. Gettys was the principal of that school and a superintendent for the district, and Mr. Brice was the principal of the old Easley High School and a superintendent for the district.”
The vote passed 4-2, with Trotter and Jimmy Gillespie opposing.