Class of 2021 named last class of Grady

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Graphic by Katie Dwyer

Grady’s name will be changing to Midtown High School starting this fall. Due to this, the Class of 2021 will be named the “Last Class of Grady.”

Katie Dwyer

“A diverse group,” “an artsy crowd” and “city kids” are phrases used to describe Grady High School. However, as the school’s name changes this year, the Class of 2021 will be Grady’s last class.

Originally founded in 1872 as Boys’ High School, an all-male, segregated school, the institution was later renamed after Atlanta journalist Henry W. Grady in 1947. Grady’s name sparked controversy as students uncovered his past racially-offensive comments. 

In December, the Atlanta school board voted to rename Grady Midtown High School.

Students in the Class of 2021 have accepted the unofficial title of the ‘Last Class of Grady’ with distinction. This year’s graduation will be a new chapter for the school.

“I think being the last class of Grady is a huge honor and a really unique experience for my class,” senior Erin Taylor said. “We’re both the end of a legacy and the beginning of a new legacy.”

Taylor believes the renaming serves as an example for students that change is possible and can open up the floor for history to be reflected on.

“When we were going to name change meetings and the discussion of possibly renaming Grady first came up, a lot of the opposition came from people saying that changing the name would be erasing the history that goes along with Henry Grady,” Taylor said. “It has opened up a lot of new conversations within the Grady community that weren’t necessarily being had … I hope those conversations are carried out not only in the sense of school names but also historic buildings and street names — the importance of black history and learning history in general.”

While some students think of the title with more normality, they still value the idea as a turning point for not only the school but also the community.

“Being the last class of Grady, I don’t really feel very strong about it,” senior Lindsey Snyder said. “I think that it marks a period of transition with the new renovations, the new name, I think it’s a new era of the Grady legacy.”

Over the years, Grady’s reputation has grown to become one of inclusivity and diversity. 

“I really admire that [diversity] has become one of Grady’s values,” Taylor said. “I think that Grady does make an effort to create a positive environment for its students, and I think that’s definitely reflected when it comes to Grady’s reputation towards academics, sports and extracurriculars.”

Class of 2019 alumnus Lili Chalfant has also experienced the unique ambiance the school offers. Chalfant has stayed connected to the Grady community and now is an assistant coach for the girls lacrosse team. 

“Grady is different from any other high school,” Chalfant said. “Because I coach, I continue to see the great impact Grady has on so many of the people that attend it. As it’s renamed and changed to Midtown High, I think it will continue to be a place where students can be themselves.”

Although the name has changed, Taylor hopes the impact Grady has made on the community will remain. 

“We know that Grady’s name doesn’t define the students,” Taylor said. “That’s clear by the reputation Grady has in the community and Atlanta as a whole. I think [the Class of 2021] should be proud of the fact that we have ended the Grady name so strongly. I’m excited to see what future classes do and the new precedents they set for Midtown High School.”