Saying his father sought to unite people, not divide them, the son of former Miami Beach Senior High principal Solomon Lichter has ended polarizing talk about changing the school’s name to honor the late administrator.
“While he would have been extremely honored and humbled to have the school bear his name, he would not have wanted to create any divisions in the community over the issue,” David Lichter wrote Friday in a letter withdrawing his family’s support for a name change.
The proposal to add “Dr. Solomon S. Lichter” to the Miami Beach Senior High title surfaced in the days following Lichter’s February death, at age 92. An alumnus contacted the school district to pitch the idea as a way to honor Lichter, who as principal from 1966 to 1977 helped guide the school through desegregation.
Supporters for the idea were optimistic. The school district, in a standard response to a request to change a school’s title, called for a community meeting at the school to discuss new names.
But as word of the potential change spread, intense pride for the Beach High name led scores of alumni and other community members to protest. An online petition against any name change garnered 1,800 signatures, and on Wednesday the Miami Beach Senior High School Alumni Association voted to keep the school’s name as is.
In response to those feelings, David Lichter wrote on behalf of his family Friday to Region Superintendent Vivian Santiesteban-Pardo in order to withdraw his father’s name from consideration.
“When I wrote last month granting our consent, I did so because I understood there was a grassroots effort under way that had the support of many for this project, and that there was no real opposition to the name change,” Lichter wrote. “I have since learned that while people’s discussion of my father’s career has been nothing but complimentary, there are a significant number of people who prefer that Miami Beach Senior High’s name remain intact, with no changes.”
“I respect their opinion, as my father would have.”
After receiving the letter, district officials canceled the meeting at the high school and declared talk of a name change moot.
Doug Jacobs, president of the alumni association and class of ‘73, said the debate came down to love of the Beach High name.
“He was a wonderful man who believed in unity and history,” Jacobs said of Lichter. “We were told people from all over the country were chiming in on this.... The word was to please leave it alone.”