OSHKOSH — After a robust discussion, the Oshkosh area Board of Education has decided to name the new public middle school after Vel Phillips. She was a civil rights leader, legal pioneer and philanthropist.
Phillips was the first African American woman to attend and earn a law degree from the University of Wisconsin's Law School. In addition, Phillips was the first woman and African American to be elected to the Milwaukee Common Council, was Wisconsin's first African American Judge when appointed in 1971, and served as Wisconsin's first woman and non-white Secretary of State for two terms.
School Board Members also approved naming the school’s media center after Jessie Jack Hooper, an American activist and suffragist and former resident of Oshkosh, Wisconsin; and naming the school’s Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math lab after Paul Poberezny, an American Aviator, military veteran, aircraft designer, entrepreneur, and former resident of Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The additional naming recommendations were made based on community support for all three of the name finalists and in an effort to further recognize those who have had a significant impact in Oshkosh and Wisconsin.
Vel Phillips Middle School will be located adjacent to the current Merrill Middle School site on the corner of Kentucky Street and Nevada Avenue. Slated to open for the 2023-24 school year, it will feature state-of-the-art spaces and resources. Groundbreaking is expected to occur in the Spring 2022. Once open, this new middle school will become home to students currently enrolled at Merrill and Webster Stanley middle schools.