Reopened Wheaton school to be named after Sargent Shriver

Longtime county resident founded Peace Corps

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A refurbished Wheaton elementary school that will reopen in the fall will be called R. Sargent Shriver Elementary School, the Board of Education decided Monday.

R. Sargent Shriver, a longtime Montgomery County resident, was the first organizer and director of the Peace Corps and was the chairman of Special Olympics International. He also did anti-poverty work.

The school named after Shriver had been the former Connecticut Park Elementary School, which was used as an adult education center until the county decided to reopen it as a result of overcrowding at Wheaton Woods, Viers Mill and Weller Road elementary schools. Renovations are halfway done, and the modernized school, located at Bushey Drive and Greenleaf Avenue, will open with almost 500 students and 20 classroom teachers.

A committee considered R. Sargent Shriver, as well as Connecticut Park, Margaret Brent, Rita Davidson, Sandra Day O’Connor and Tito Puente as names for the new elementary school, said Frank Stetson, a community superintendent for Montgomery County Public Schools.

After considering several names, the committee polled community members and decided on Shriver, said Janet Dunn, the school’s new principal.

Shriver, who is connected to the Kennedy family, was the director of Office of Economic Opportunity under former President Lyndon B. Johnson and was a vice presidential candidate in 1972. He also briefly sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976.

Shriver, who lives in Potomac, now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. His daughter, television journalist Maria Shriver, has published the children’s book ‘‘What’s Happening to Grandpa?” to help explain Alzheimer’s to children.

Board of Education student member Sebastian Johnson, a Montgomery Blair High School senior, said he put R. Sargent Shriver on the list of names to choose from based on his work with the Peace Corps and Job Corps.

‘‘I thought this would be a great opportunity to recognize someone who actually did something for students who may not have been the norm,” Johnson said.

Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill also expressed her support of the school’s name.

‘‘I think that Mr. Shriver’s legacy is tremendous worldwide, nationwide and in this county,” she said