Appleton School unveils name change in honor of former principal

APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) – An Appleton school has a new name in honor of longtime educator and former principal Ron Dunlap.

Dunlap was also one of the first African-American school administrators in northeast Wisconsin.

He died in October 2019.

The change took place at Lincoln Elementary where a sign was unveiled Monday night, reading Ronald C. Dunlap Elementary, “Home of the Lincoln Lions.”

Dunlap was principal of the school for sixteen years.

“It’s not just Ron’s name on a sign or a school, but an opportunity for me, an opportunity for the community to continue their work,” said Evette Dunlap, Ron’s widow.

Dunlap says the project took three years.

This includes images throughout the school showcasing her husband’s work, including his desire to treat everyone with dignity and respect.

Former Appleton Diversity Coordinator Karen Nelson added, “He was the precursor to my launching the Dignity and Respect campaign because he lived through it for a few decades before I came to the premises. So think how futuristic he was, twenty years as a director here almost.

The first day of classes under the new school name is September 1.

The hope is that students get to know Dunlap and understand what he stood for.

Appleton Area School Superintendent. Greg Hartjes said, “Certainly with 45% of our students being students of color, we sure hope they look at this and say I can aspire to greatness. I can be that type of person who can contribute so significantly to their community, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Dunlap has also started a scholarship fund and hopes to continue her late husband’s work.

“He would say so now what are you going to do Evette?” What happens afterwards? You know how you’re going to make these things happen,” she said.

Immediately after the ceremony, a proclamation was also delivered by the governor, honoring Dunlap.

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