Alfonza W. Davis was a scholar, a leader and a patriot.
He graduated valedictorian of the class of March 1937 at Technical High School. He was the first black Omahan to earn fighter pilot wings at Tuskegee Army Air Field. And as an airman, Davis rose to captain with the Tuskegee Airmen before his plane disappeared in Italy on Oct. 29, 1944.
Starting next fall, hundreds of Omaha children will learn more about what he did, who he was and the legacy he left.
The Omaha school board voted 10-0 Monday night to name the district's newest middle school after Davis. A board committee approved the name earlier Monday.
The school, at 132nd and State Streets, is scheduled to open in August 2013.
“I can't tell you how pleased I am that you've chosen this,” said a teary-eyed Nancy Huston, board member and former reading teacher at Tech High from 1977 to 1984, when the school closed.
A committee made up of four parents and five Omaha Public Schools officials picked three names and mascot combinations. A group of 10 students from Prairie Wind and Saddlebrook Elementary Schools selected two, said Dan Bartels, the new middle school's principal.
Some students in the attendance areas of the Buffett and Morton Middle Schools and Boyd, Prairie Wind and Saddlebrook Elementary Schools will go to the new middle school.
Of the committee's nine members, seven voted for the name Davis Middle School, and “Aviators” as mascot.
The committee's vote was weighted as 40 percent of the decision. A vote of about 270 fifth- and sixth-graders at Prairie Wind and Saddlebrook was considered as 60 percent of the recommendation.
In total, the Davis-Aviators combination won out over the Alfonza W. Davis Middle School Dragons and the Great Plains Middle School Wolves.
Davis Middle School, for students in sixth through eighth grades, will be the 12th OPS middle school. The other middle schools also have been named after people.
The school's attendance area generally will be north of Fort Street and west and north of Interstate 680.
Bartels suggested collaborating with the local Alfonza W. Davis Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen and having a sort of living history museum about Davis and the airmen.
It's an idea that Bob Rose, Bellevue resident and president of the local chapter, supports. Whenever the group works with kids, Rose said, its members stress the motto the airmen lived by: “You can do anything you want to if you are prepared.”
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