SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ — Scotch Plains–Fanwood Public Schools recently announced that Park Middle School will be renamed Malcolm E. Nettingham Middle School, in honor of a local hero who was a member of World War II’s celebrated Tuskegee Airmen and a 1936 graduate of the district’s high school.
The Board of Education renamed the middle school through a resolution passed on Wednesday, Sept. 29, and plans opportunities for the community to learn about Nettingham’s legacy, including an official renaming ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day.
“We are proud to call Mr. Nettingham an alumnus of the district and are excited to honor his memory by renaming the middle school after him,” said Superintendent Joan V. Mast. “This will allow students for generations to come to learn from Mr. Nettingham’s legacy and continue to celebrate his deep roots in the community and school district.”
Nettingham, a resident of Scotch Plains for almost a century, died at age 101 in September 2020. He graduated from Scotch Plains High School in 1936 and served with the Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 2007 for his military service and valor. His hometown honored him by making him the grand marshal of the Scotch Plains–Fanwood Memorial Day Parade in 2014. He was also inducted into the Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School Hall of Fame in 2015.
“Mr. Nettingham typified everything our community values: humility, service to others, inner strength, dedication to family and community, and so much more,” said Park Middle School Principal Jocelyn Dumaresq. “The choice to rename Park Middle School is even more fitting in that it was once Scotch Plains High School, the school from which Mr. Nettingham graduated in 1936.”
The district plans a number of events to celebrate and formalize the renaming. Students will participate in educational experiences to learn more about Nettingham and the Tuskegee Airmen. The squadron of the nation’s first African American military pilots performed heroically during World War II.
In addition, the district is kicking off a logo and mascot design contest to engage students in the renaming process. Park students will be invited to submit their designs for a new school logo, in addition to submitting designs for an official school mascot. Students will be encouraged to draw inspiration from Nettingham’s life and military service. These new designs will be featured on T-shirts, the district website and more.
The official Veterans Day renaming event on Thursday, Nov. 11, will feature speakers from the community and will welcome members of the national armed forces as honored guests. The logo and mascot design challenge winners will be announced that day.
Photos Courtesy of Jessica Reyes