Hammond Alums Are Feeling Blue (and White)

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To the editor:

I have just learned of a proposal to change the school colors at the Francis C. Hammond Middle School based on a vote by students and parents. The current colors, blue and white, represent 50 years of tradition and the memory of Francis C. Hammond U.S.N., an Alexandria resident and Medal of Honor recipient who gave his life during the Korean War.

For the sake of 50 years of tradition and memories I would prefer that the school colors remain unchanged. I see great opportunity to teach todays youth the understanding and value of tradition and memories. With so much tradition, if I were a young student it would be a privilege for me to attend classes at Francis C. Hammond and wear the Blue&White proudly.

At the end of the day tradition and memories will always have more value than all things material.

Warren F. Wantz
Class of 1962

To the editor:

An open letter to Superintendent Morton Sherman:

As a graduate of Hammond High School, I am saddened by the news that our colors and traditions may soon be a thing of the past. Although I am not an active alumnus, I still have fond memories of wearing blue and white clothes and a sailor hat to show my school spirit. I was wild for anything that had the Navy look. To change these traditions now would be like saying that Hammond, as we knew it, never existed.

Please reconsider any thought you have of allowing current and future students to change what was so dear to us. As long as the school is called Francis C. Hammond, all past colors and traditions should remain as is. (And dont even think about changing the name!)

Leslie (Swavely) Horton
Proud Member of The Last Class of 1971

To the editor:

I am writing on behalf of Francis C. Hammond High Schools class of 1959. We were honored to be the first to enter the doors of Hammond High School when they opened in 1956. I also felt privileged to be part of the yearbook staff since my words were the first to appear in the Anchor: In our hands, we hold the future of Hammond High.

Little did I realize that the future would be 53 years later when others may be given the opportunity to choose the school colors and change the traditions established at that time.
Hammond High School was steeped in Navy tradition since it was named after a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient. Following in that tradition, Tom Mercer (Class of 58), went on to the United States Naval Academy and pursued a distinguished career in the Navy, retiring as an admiral. How fitting that was since we were known as The Admirals! Others from Hammond (Classes 58 and 59) and George Washington High School also attended the U. S. Naval Academy and were classmates of my husband, John S. Volk II, Commander, USN, Retired.

Those who graduated from Hammond High School would be deeply saddened to learn that changes were made to the proud traditions established 53 years ago!

Frankie Joan Carol Mauck VolkClass of 1959

To the editor:

I have recently learned that consideration is being given to changing the official colors and possibly even the name of Francis C. Hammond Middle School. As a member of the Francis C. Hammond High School class of 1960 and one of the students who matriculated in Hammonds opening year, I urge the powers that be not to change either the colors or the name of the school.

The colors and name of the school were thoughtfully chosen to represent and pay tribute to a young Alexandria native and U. S. Navy Seaman who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for heroism. I cannot imagine that there is a compelling reason to retract this tribute to a Medal of Honor recipient from Alexandria.

Another reason for not changing the name or colors of the school is that, from the outset, Francis C. Hammond High School was truly an extraordinary school in both academics and athletics. Many Hammond students went on to very successful careers in their chosen fields. A few examples just from the class of 1960 include Dr. Jack Edwards, Jr., professor of medicine and chief of the infectious diseases department at UCLAs School of Medicine; Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William Howell; Albert Mitchell, Commonwealths Attorney for Shenandoah County; and myself, a Ph.D., with some 140 research papers published in economics and banking journals.
Remarkably, despite the achievements of these and many other students, and the many years since leaving Hammond, there remain to this day very strong bonds between the students atHammond. This was most apparent at the 50-year anniversary celebration of the opening of the school that many of us attended in 2006. Included in the anniversary celebration was a visit to the Hammond campus.
In view of the above, I hope plans to change the colors or name of Francis C. Hammond Middle School or any component schools that may be established be abandoned.

The memory of Francis C. Hammond, the young Medal of Honor recipient, deserves this consideration even if we earlier students do not. Perhaps efforts could better be devoted to acknowledging and celebrating the impressive heritage of the school rather than simply dismissing it. Such a heritage should be upheld as a source of inspiration and pride to the young students at Francis C. Hammond Middle School.

Steve Rhoades
Class of 60

To the editor:

Please dont take away our tradition. For those of us who were fortunate enough to grow up in Alexandria in the 40s and 50s, we are steeped in memories and tradition.

It is with a heavy heart that I hear that the tradition of Francis C. Hammond High School (now a middle school), may be no more. For those of us who attended G.W. then graduated from Hammond, losing our school colors and The Admirals is like losing the traditions of Old Town.
Please let us hold onto the precious few memories we have of our youth. Preserve our name and our colors!
Jim Agnew

Francis C. Hammond High School Alumni Association
Class 0f 59

To the editor:

An open letter to Superintendent Morton Sherman:

As one who attended Francis C. Hammond High School I am asking that you and others take into consideration the long history of the school and the person for whom it was named. Francis C. Hammond was one who served with great honor in the U.S. Navy and the colors, mascot, etc. are all evidence of that background and serve to honor Francis Hammond while also giving an ongoing logical tie of the schools traditions to its namesake.

I understand that it has been proposed that the school now allow the parents and students to consider new colors for Hammond. I would ask for this possibility to be rethought. I feel that the tie of the current colors to the background of Francis C. Hammond to be appropriate and a way to continue to honor this heroic and now deceased native son of Alexandria. I also feel that to change the colors after more than 50 years would be disrespectful to his memory and to the many who graduated from the school in its days as a four-year high school. For those people, their alma mater no longer exists in the form of a true four-year high school, and the traditions and memories are all that truly remain.

I would hope that the colors of Hammond will long be Navy blue and white and that the traditions of the Francis C. Hammond Admirals will continue for years to come. This past student will surely appreciate your sensitivity to the memory of Francis C. Hammond the school, and, more importantly, Francis C. Hammond the person.

Jim Crosby
Alexandria

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