Movement to name field after fallen soldier being thwarted by obscure school board bylaw

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

It's the kind of idea that no compassionate person would be opposed to. Following the tragic death of a 22-year-old in Afghanistan, his friends and relatives wanted to rename the football field at his alma mater in his honor. While that shouldn't have been hard, the quest has instead hit a permanent snag because of a bizarre, two-decades old policy that bars any schools in the home district from allowing facilities to bear individual names.

As reported by Portland TV network KGW, a grassroots movement in Beaverton, Oregon has sprung up to rename the football field at Beaverton (Ore.) Southridge High after Andrew Keller, a 22-year-old soldier who was killed during a tour of duty in Afghanistan in August. Keller was an MVP and team captain of the Southridge football team before enlisting in the army after graduation.

Andrew Keller's relatives celebrate his memory at a jersey retirement ceremony — Facebook
Andrew Keller's relatives celebrate his memory at a jersey retirement ceremony — Facebook

No one appears to be opposed to the movement to rename the stadium after the former athlete. Still, that doesn't mean that the renaming will go ahead. For that to happen, Beaverton's school district would have to overturn a district-wide policy that bars any public school facilities from being named after anything but the school itself.

Given Beaverton's largest employer -- Nike -- the 24-year-old policy makes plenty of sense. Barring any re-naming of school facilities would keep Nike from ever making a play to name school facilities after company legends or the firm itself.

Still, that totalitarian stance also makes public honorifics like the one being attempted at Southridge impossible. As a result, the "Andrew Keller Memorial Field" movement, which has gained significant support in the community and on Facebook, might even lead to a larger change in civic policy.

"We've had people in the past ask to have different facilities named and we've denied that," Beaverton school district official Maureen Wheeler told KGW. "I think we have to be very thoughtful and the board is going to take their time to look at this."

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