Obama Elementary opens in Richmond: ‘We have a name that represents hope’

RICHMOND, Va. -- Schools across the Richmond-area went back in session Tuesday morning, for the start of the 2018-19 school year.

Carver Elementary was just one of the Richmond Public Schools were students received a warm welcome.

Dozens of VCU students lined the streets holding signs and chanting as students got off the bus.

After Carver Elementary came under fire after an SOL cheating scandal, Richmond Schools Superintendent Jason Kamras said this year he would continue to make sure students have a safe environment to learn.

"I see it as my job to start turning over all these rocks, and when I see snakes, I just got to step on them and take care of it for the kids and families of RPS. And I’m going to keep doing that," Kamras said.

Obama Elementary opens in Richmond

Just a few miles down the road, another welcoming committee awaited.

Kamras and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney greeted students as they walked through the doors of a newly named school -- Barack Obama Elementary.

The Richmond School Board voted in June to change the name of J.E.B. Stuart Elementary to Barack Obama Elementary school.

“This marks a new beginning for a number of children in the school," Mayor Stoney said. "The name that formerly was on the school was one that represented division then and division now, and I think now we have a name that represents hope, change, and I think in this time we need that.”

J.E.B. Stuart was a Confederate general who fought in the Civil War.

Kamras said more changes are on the way to benefit students.

"We’ve got to fix our schools, fix our data systems. I know a lot of people in the community know we have a lot of work to do in that area so we’re excited to tackle that as well," he said.

He also explained the reason behind a surprise early start in high schools Tuesday. Schools started about 10 minutes earlier than originally planned.

Kamras said the reason the change was made was to ensure the schools met state standards and students would get credit for their hard work.