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November 16, 2021

Lower Merion community wants new middle school named after late principal Sean Hughes

Students and parents have started an online petition to honor the longtime educator, but district policy explicitly prohibits naming buildings after people

Education Schools
Lower Merion School District Courtesy/Lower Merion School District

Lower Merion School District members are pushing for the district to name its new middle school after a beloved principal who was killed in a car accident over the weekend.

Thousands of community members are calling for a new Lower Merion middle school to be named after Principal Sean Hughes who was killed in a car accident over the weekend.

Hughes was a beloved principal at Lower Merion High School for 14 years and also served as a teacher and an athletic director.

However, Lower Merion School District spokesperson Amy Buckman told PhillyMag that the district policy explicitly prohibits naming buildings after people. Buckman said the school board will work with the family and students to find a way to properly memorialize Hughes.

The new school's name is currently set to be "Black Rock Middle School," though some community members still are pushing for the name to change. 

As of Nov. 16, more than 6,500 people have signed an online petition to name the new Lower Merion middle school after Hughes. The school is set to open next fall.

"As a teacher, an athletic director, an assistant principal, and principal -- in every role he served -- Hughes put the students and staff of Lower Merion first," the petition reads. "He cared deeply about us and he worked his tail off to give us his best, every single day. It seems inconceivable, unfair, and beyond tragic that he is gone. We are devastated and heartbroken. And while we may never be able to process the loss of LM's greatest principal and leader, we know that Mr. Hughes' extraordinary legacy will live on in the generations of Aces he touched and impacted." 

Hughes was known for his slogan, "character counts," and affectionately referred to as "Huuuughes" by his students.

“It's impossible to describe what Sean Hughes meant to Aces Nation and the Lower Merion Community. He was our principal, yes," the petition reads. "But he was so much more than that. Our most loyal friend. Our biggest cheerleader. Our partner in crime. Huuuughes was the ultimate Ace." 

Around 7:30 a.m on Saturday morning, Hughes was driving his son to a soccer game in Winslow Township, New Jersey, when his car was struck by an SUV at the intersection of Fleming Pike and Hay Road. He died shortly after, and his son, Nolan, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. 

The Lower Merion Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Khalid N. Mumin, issued a statement earlier this week that honored Hughes' impact on students.

"Mr. Hughes was beloved by thousands of students who passed through the halls of Lower Merion over the years," the statement read. "He welcomed each one at 9th grade orientation and proudly handed out diplomas at their graduations. In the years between, he MC'ed their Amazing Ace competitions in his gold sequined jacket, inducted students into the National Honor Society and recognized Merit Scholars. He encouraged student voice at every turn, the door to his office was always open, and I know that many will carry his message of "character counts" throughout their lives. It is not an overstatement to say his impact on his students is immeasurable."

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