Colonel, Ilan Ramon A Jewish community school in Los Angeles previously known as “Heschel West” changed its name in time for the upcoming school year. From this point on, it will be named in the memory of Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli astronaut
The suburban L.A elementary school’s principal announced the new name during a ceremonious Shabbat dinner. Beginning with the upcoming school year, the sign that students are greeted with first thing in the morning, will bear the astronaut’s name, making the school the only one in the U.S named after Colonel Ilan Ramon, who was killed in the Columbia Space Shuttle crash in 2003.
“Ilan Ramon was both an Israeli and American hero”, said the school’s principal Yuri Hronsky, when revealing the new name. “Ilan Ramon embodies many of the values that are important to us: family, community, research, a love of learning and Judaism. He believed in researching the hidden potential in the world, just as we believe in uncovering the hidden potential in every child”.
The name was changed just in time for the school’s 18 year anniversary. “Now that we’ve reached our 18th year, this is a good time to step forward with a new identity”, said Hronsky.
The new name was presented only after a committee was appointed to find a name that represents the spirit of the school and its values. Additionally, a series of surveys on the matter were given to the school’s students and their families, allowing them an opportunity to express their opinions and help choose the most fitting name. Finally, the month of May marked the decision to name the school after Ramon.
“I think the name very well expresses our yearning to move forward, start over, and research new fields”, announced Bruce Friedman, Chairperson of the school directorate and father of one of its students. “We’re preparing our children toward professions and industries that don’t yet exist. The new name embodies the essence of our belief in ethics, morals and values, while also demonstrating our students’ preparation for the challenges they’ll come across in the future”.
In the year 2008, the school won the Blue Ribbon Prize, a notable award given for educational excellence in California. Hronsky stresses that the change in name will not alter the character of the school, which serves an affluent Jewish community in the Los Angeles suburbs. “This is the same school”, he says. “Only the name is new”.