Starting in September, the Heschel West Day School in Agoura Hills, California, west of Los Angeles, will be known as the Ilan Ramon Day School, making it the first school known to be named after the Israeli astronaut killed in the 2003 Columbia disaster. The change was announced in June and coincides with the 18th anniversary of the school's establishment, with the help of the Abraham Joshua Heschel Day School in nearby Northridge, according to the Jewish Journal.com website. The founders had promised to change the name in order to avoid confusion between the two schools.
At the end of the 2010-2011 school year, Heschel West had 150 students ranging from 2-year-olds to fifth-graders. Yuri Hronsky, who heads the school, called Ramon "both an Israeli and an American hero,” adding, “He embodied a lot of the values that we hold dear: family, community, discovery, love for learning, Judaism,”
Bruce Friedman, president of the school’s board of directors, said, “I think the new name really stands for how we can move forward in new frontiers, new beginnings, uncharted territories, and still hold true to who we are.”