After a landslide vote by the community, the Forsyth County Schools Board of Education unanimously voted to name its next middle school after former longtime board member and education advocate Donald F. Hendricks.
At the board’s February meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 19, members voted in favor of naming the county’s 11th middle school the Donald F. Hendricks Middle School, which is set to be built on Hyde Road in west Forsyth by August 2021.
Forsyth County Schools Director of Communications Jennifer Caracciolo told the board that during this naming process they received a staggering 20,000 votes, well beyond any participation they have had in past school namings.
More than 15,000 votes favored Hendricks Middle School, Caracciolo said.
Other options for the new school’s name included Cobb Creek Middle School and Drew Middle School, as well as many different write-in options from the community for former school system employees and places in the county.
After the vote, members of the Hendricks family stood to be recognized and to share their happiness at the board’s decision.
"We would just like to thank the Forsyth County community and you, the Board of Education, for recognizing dad's service to the community with this special honor," said Suzanne Saunders, daughter of Don Hendricks.
After the meeting, Hendricks’ wife, Barbara Hendricks, said that the naming was a fitting tribute to her husband’s work to modernize the school system.
"We came here in 1988 and we found a school system that didn't have a lot of direction,” Barbara said. “... He fought to get a community-based strategic plan here, which was really a cornerstone for this community. He would be so proud of how this school system has grown.”
She said that they were not surprised at the love the community expressed for her husband, but they were surprised at the sheer number of people that voted.
"This community has always been a very supportive, giving, loving community," Barbara Hendricks said.
Board members also expressed their happiness at the decision, stating that they are happy to vote for such a wildly-approved measure.
"I think that says a lot from the community, and I think it’s really neat as a board that we can approve the naming of a school that was selected by the community," said Board Member representing District 1 Wes McCall.