Will the students at Jerry Garcia High get in trouble for smoking weed?
For now, the question remains a hypothetical, but following a controversial vote by the San Francisco School Board on the evening of Jan. 26, Garcia is reportedly under consideration for one of 44 new school name vacancies.
In opting to strip dozens of elementary, middle, and high schools of their previous namesakes (like Thomas Jefferson and former San Francisco mayor Adolph Sutro, a slave owner and segregationist, respectively), an acute need for replacement options has arrived with urgency. One apparent option of many being circulated: a school named for musician Jerry Garcia.
As the San Francisco Chronicle reported, a list of prospective candidates being considered for the honor includes the late Grateful Dead vocalist-guitarist-songwriter, who died in 1995 at the age of 53. At present, there is no specific school attached to the prospect of honoring Garcia, but the visage of Dancing Bears headlining a high school pep rally is awfully tantalizing.
Alongside Garcia, other figures being considered as potential school namesakes include current Vice President Kamala Harris, who was born in Oakland and later served as San Francisco district attorney, and the poet Maya Angelou. There are also calls to name schools after Northern California’s indigenous peoples. Also noteworthy were numerous complaints that the meeting, which last over seven hours, failed to address the fact that all San Francisco schools remained closed due to COVID-19 indefinitely.
Regardless, there is now a new era of school names to come for San Francisco. And while politicians — as well as poets and writers, to a lesser extent — have long been in play for such honors, the idea of a public school being named for a beloved rock musician would represent a new riff on the tune entirely.