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Boarding school changes name to honor abolitionist founder

WASHINGTON, Conn. (AP) — A 170-year-old Connecticut boarding school has changed its name to honor its abolitionist founder.

The Gunnery, a co-ed college preparatory school with an enrollment of just over 300 students from 25 states and 17 countries, has announced it will now be known as the Frederick Gunn School.

Gunn founded the private school in 1850 with the idea of providing a place that would treat all students fairly, regardless of color or gender, school officials said.

Peter Becker, the head of the school, told the Republican-American newspaper that the Gunnery has not always lived up to Gunn’s ideals and the name change was made in part to remind the community of what he stood for.

Gunn led the Underground Railroad in Litchfield County. He also founded the nation’s first summer camp, the Gunnery Camp, in 1861, according to the American Camp Association.

“A school founded by an outspoken abolitionist should really be a place that is unafraid to welcome and fully include all people,” Becker said. “There are definitely moments in our history that we haven’t done that, in ways that I think Frederick Gunn would have. In part, the name is a declaration that that’s something we’re committed to.”

The name change went into effect on July 25, but was approved by the school’s board of trustees in January.

Becker said he anticipates criticism from people who incorrectly believe the renaming is linked to the Black Lives Matter movement. He called the timing a “facinating coincidence.”

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