Kickass renames high school

Kickass, the doorstop dog, shares Madison living quarters with the keeper and Phyllis that overlooks the high school where, long ago, the keeper’s sons did their versions of being students; and he—the keeper, finds it noteworthy that the school is changing its name from James Madison Memorial to Vel Phillips Memorial, eliminating the slave-owning president in favor of the first Black woman to be elected to statewide Wisconsin office.

As among some of the first students at the new school in the 1970’s, the keeper’s sons early-on demonstrated that scholastic achievement is not everything and personal agendas can override such things as attendance requirements.

It was the long-hair, hippy days of student rebellion when the chaos on the UW campus spilled down into the Madison schools; and forcing sons to get to the barbershop was among the absurd obligations imposed on the keeper.

The keeper has great respect for Vel Phillips, having had brief media contact with her, and being appraised of her extensive pioneering civil rights work; and it seems totally appropriate to jerk the historical leash of a founding father who accepted that owning other human beings was okay.

But as the keeper gazes out at the high school and recalls his sons’ rebellious days there, another name for it comes to mind: “Dad’s Hippy Days Memorial.”

It will not fly, of course, and “Vel Phillips” will rightfully prevail, except when the keeper remembers being summoned to meet with a son in the principal’s office.

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