Prince William County's 13th high school

Among items on the agenda for Wednesday's Prince William School Board meeting is a request to rescind the board's June vote to name the county's 13th high school Gainesville High.

Occoquan District representative Lillie Jessie is listed next to the agenda item, which reads: "Recommended Action - That the Prince William County School Board rescind its ... motion naming the 13th high school, Gainesville High School, to rename the school."

The board voted unanimously June 10 to name the school, currently under construction near the Jiffy Lube Live amphitheater in Bristow, Gainesville High. The school is expected to open this fall.

In September, Jessie's husband Richard launched a petition to have the school board reconsider the name, citing that its namesake was a prominent local slave owner, Thomas Brawner Gaines.

In the petition, Richard Jessie said a "bewildered" citizen sent the school board an email the day after the vote, noting that Gaines was not only a slave owner but a constable who "shows up in several Prince William Circuit Court records regarding the disposition of other county residents’ slaves, recommending where those slaves should reside upon the death of their masters," the petition reads.

Lillie Jessie on Monday declined to comment on the name-change request.

"I am gathering my thoughts on this so I prefer not to discuss it at this time," she said in an email.

Unincorporated Gainesville in western Prince William is named after Gaines, who had begun buying up property in the area as early as 1835, and later became a major landowner, John Toler wrote in a 2017 piece for Piedmont Lifestyle Magazine.

“Thomas Gaines, canny Welshman that he was, and owner of the area where the Manassas Gap Railroad sought right-of-way, insisted that all passenger trains should stop there, and that the place should be called Gainesville,” according to "Prince William: The Story of Its Places and Its People."

The Gaines family lived in a house built in the 1830s on a tract of land bordered by present-day Catharpin Road and Route 55.

"Thomas Gaines lived to see the railroad built across his land in 1852 and the village named for his family, but he died young, in 1856," Toler wrote.

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(22) comments

Wake Up & Smell The Coffee!

It’s imperative to procure a name that can span the test of time. And that’s no easy task. Therefore, the name must meet the highest of political correctness standards. Something that will satisy the woke-est of the woke! The school must be named after someone who’s name embodies gender neutrality, embraces non-English speaking Americans and is a true representation of our diversity! That said, I propose the name “Cousin It High School”. Who could possibly argue with that!?!


Let’s make sure we spell his name correctly. His real name is Cousin Itt.


Wow, can these people get any bat shit crazier? Another excellent example of why you’d never want your child attending public schools. These people are mentally retarded.


Was it necessary to use the "retarded) word?


Given the namesake’s history, Gainesville itself should be renamed.

Colonel Trautman

We need to vote these lunatics out. Our once great Republic is coming apart at the seams.


Yes, let’s rename it. My recommendation is Donald J Trump High School.

Lillie Jessie needs to be recalled and voted off the school board. She was a waste as principal of this county not caring about black children only their test scores to make her look good....and wasting taxpayers dollars....and now hurting the whole county education system since on the board.

Also, it is time to split this county into two....west and east Prince William counties....too much BS coming from hoodbridge area screwing up Haymarket and Gainesville area.


Wow. Racist after racist after racist just pouring out of the woodwork because of a name. Oh, sorry. You don’t like that term do you? Should I just call you all bigots? Or fools who would rather gripe over something that might actually go towards making others feel included? That might require you to look past the end of your own nose and see to the needs of others. And we wouldn’t want the old bigots of the county to feel in anyway uncomfortable, now would we? Seriously, boys, hobbies. Get one.


You are a sick puppy. If you think that anything that can remotely be tied to racism in the distant past should have its name changed, you are the one that needs to get a hobby. I bet I could tie your name to slavery if I looked in your background. Maybe we should change your name to something that helps others feel included.


I bet you could; it was a major problem for a very long time worldwide. But I’ve decided to try and do what I can to improve this world for everyone not just those who think and look like me. I can acknowledge my mistakes instead of just shrugging my shoulders and telling people to deal with it and getting huffy and bent out of shape when forced to see new ideas. And if irritating you makes you not feel included I’m fine with that; the faster your way of thinking goes the way of the dodo the better.


You are a hero! Nice virtue signal. I’ll tell you what, I think you should continue your own internal struggle of self loathing while pondering if every word in the English language has a “racist” past. You’d save yourself a lot of time though, and just go see a psychiatrist instead.


I’d almost guarantee you’re the type of weirdo who drives around in their car, alone with a mask and gloves on.


Calling people racists seems to be your hobby. "Oh here is an article about race, let me go call everyone who doesn't think its racist a bigot"

I promise you, this will not help you get laid.


@Makeitbetter. Did you know that there were thousands of Irish slaves sent to the Caribbean to work on sugar plantations? Did you know that there was rampant discrimination against Irish for years? Even President Kennedy’s election was not a slam dunk due to his Irish Catholic roots? My immigrant family was part of that slave trade, yet I hold nothing against anything with an English name.


Nice job morons in PWC. This is what you deserve if you are a republican and did not vote. Now make sure next time you vote and get everyone you know to vote. So damn glad I moved from PWC.


If the original plan was to name the school, "Thomas Brawner Gaines High School" then I would certainly understand the push back. But in this case, the name isn't trying to reflect the name of the person, but the community that exists now.


Fair enough,

Case in point, Gainesville is an unincorporated area of our county, I mean if they REALLY wanted to go down this road, and have a 12:00 a.m. special session on it, they next logical name would be Bristow H.S, but even then, I mean, the school name is representing the area these students reside in, zero issues with that, or at least there shouldnt be.

Because one individual decided to do some more research into this Thomas Brawner Gaines guy, Mrs. Jessie decided to bring this as a point of order for the board? If it were that important to them, which it isnt, they would have done research in the first place. Politicians which is sad to say the school-board is political when it should be apolitical to a T, tend to be secondary responders, As a Matter of Factors', and trend followers, like in this case.

When you start to really "think" about this though, now what should we do? We may as well start at the top here, lets see. C.D. Hylton, lets get our tax-dollars to run a background check, wait hold on, we have Gar-Field, lets look at that more closely, we have Potomac, derived from "Pawtomack," the Indian word, so right here we have a racial discrepancy, we need to change the spelling back to the rightful creators of the word, and have a virtual Thanksgiving day feast with no Turkey because in order to save the climate, we have to eat less meat, to celebrate the re-naming. Ok lets keep it going, we have Woodbridge, ah! George Mason himself is some how connected to Woodbridge as the property owner, lets get a name change going ASAP. We have Forest Park....Again! The woke claim that blacks arent given the opportunity to visit national parks and spend time outdoors as much as whites, gotta change the name, its offensive to blacks, or maybe it isnt, but its racist because we say so! Freedom H.S., dont even get me started on that....what Freedom?! False advertising, needs a re-name. Osbourn Park, not sure....gotta perform a background check on Osbourn to see whats really going on...oh last but not least, PATRIOT! Boy oh Boy, ya Never wanna hear that title, change the name! Oh I thought I was done but I forgot, BATTLEFIELD. The same battlefield Stonewall Jackson fought on (Dont forget the African-American regiments though, who were credited with winning the second battle of bull run under Stonewall Jackson's leadership). Yes it was leadership, in case some of the others were unaware, Stonewall Jackson broke West Virginia law to teach African-American children Sunday School. Gotta change the name though...

Politics baby, its a big club...Taxation with Misrepresentation.

Sic Semper Tyrannis...


I see that the ignorant "woke" fools are at it again. Offended by anything and everything. Screw em.


Well said RodS. You hit the nail on the head.


I graduated from Stonewall. I don’t know one black person who blames their plight on the use of the name a Confederate General. Their plight is due to the poor public education system that forces these kids to attended. Any talk of school choice for black children is met by backlash from the Teachers Union. One of the first acts by President Obama was to remove school vouchers for minority children in Washington DC. All done to placate the Union who spend millions supporting / electing Democrats.


The problem with these debates is that we are demonstrating to our kids that other people are responsible for caretaking their feelings. Just look at some comments here talking about "making" kids feel more included. A key to effective living is realizing that you are responsible for your own feelings, no matter what other people say and do. If the adults in the room could all teach our kids that, then the next generation would be in such a better place than we are.


Distance learning is dismal failure for most students and the school board is worried about this. Priorities, people, priorities.

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