In defense of Friendship

You'd think they were talking about putting THAT "F-word" in the name of the new high school in Apex.


But, no. When the Wake County School Board voted last week to rename the future school, which had at first been deemed "West Apex High," the F-word that got everyone all steamed up was … Friendship. (See N&O story here.)


People have cast all sorts of aspersions on that F-word, at least in the context of a high school. It's "dorky," one friend, whose child will attend the school when it opens in 2015, complained. In news stories and online comments, others have called the name "juvenile" and "dumb." Much hand-wringing has been expended over how the name "Apex Friendship" will sound when announced in a football stadium, and some have worried that college recruiters will think the name denotes a school that isn't tough enough.


Complicating matters is the fact that "Friendship" was chosen not because someone thought (like I do) that the concept of sharing affection, respect and sometimes your lunch with another person is a good and noble thing. The name change sprang from a petition from folks who wanted to honor Friendship, an unincorporated community in the area that was founded in the mid-1800s, according to local historians, as a place where white, black and Native American folks could live together peacefully.


How's that for a learning opportunity?


Are kids attending Apex Friendship High going to encounter some teasing from kids at opposing schools on the eve of a Friday football game? Um, maybe? Though in this day and age I'm pretty sure kids can find something much more vicious and personal to bully someone over. But, going with this assumption that ridicule over the school name will happen, here's a suggestion: Instead of trying to shield Apex High School students-to-be from potential name-related bullying two years from now, why not teach them the grand art of the shrug, a good life skill if I ever saw one?


"You don't like my school name? OK, then. Thanks for your input. I'll just be over here acing the SAT if you have further thoughts on the matter."


The arguments over the name change, before the school board finalized its vote, got really heated, which was bound to happen when you've got parents involved. I don't buy arguments that opponents of the Apex Friendship name are racist or don't want to honor that community's values, and I don't want to minimize concerns of families whose students will attend this school by saying the name shouldn't be such a big deal. Both sides are well-intentioned, and both sides could have conducted themselves in ways that provided better examples to the children whose interests they're trying to protect.


But I have to ask, with apologies to Nick Lowe: what's so funny about peace (the name of a college right here in Raleigh), love (the name of a major airport in Dallas) and understanding (OK, fine. I'm drawing a blank for an example for that one)? What's so ridicule-worthy about friendship (or Friendship) that you wouldn't be moved to stand up proudly and support it?