The legacy of Samuel Eberly Gross looks like it will live on.

In the face of community survey results showing overwhelming support for the existing name, as well as a crowd of excited students loudly protesting the idea of renaming their future alma mater, the Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 school board began backing away from its proposal to change the name of S.E. Gross Middle School at its meeting March 13.

“Say it loud! Say it proud! S.E. Gross! S.E. Gross! S.E. Gross!” a group of more than 25 students greeted meeting-goers with this chant outside Brook Park School last Thursday.

Many waved posters with messages like “Honor Our Alumni” and “We Love Gross,” and one student collected signatures for a petition against changing the school’s name.

The group was led by four eighth graders-Kelly Kramer, Liz Larson, Rachel Koropazz and Bridget Brewer. Their efforts against the name change began with a weekend protest on Veterans’ Memorial Circle in Brookfield earlier this month, and grew quickly from there.

In a statement made during the meeting, Brewer said they also planned to take their petition to local businesses to increase support for the school name.

“I’m an S.E. Gross Warrior,” Brewer said. “I don’t want that to change. I don’t want my school to be forgotten.”

That sentiment was echoed by Gross parents and alumni, many of whom came out to the meeting to voice their disapproval.

“This is the name of the founder of Brookfield,” said Ron Grossmann, an alumnus from the class of 1964. “What you forget is that there are many alumni from over the years who have graduated from Gross School. Speaking to some of them, they’re very upset about this. … It would be a shame if the board goes ahead, along with the superintendent, and changes the name.”

The theme of the night was continued with the announcement of the preliminary results of a survey conducted by the committee of parents, staff and administrators the board set up to explore the possibility of a name change in late February.

Superintendent Thomas Hurlburt said that out of 795 completed surveys, about 70 percent of the number sent out, the vote stood at 269 (34 percent) for the name change and 526 (66 percent) against. This total includes surveys given to district staff and students, as well as more than 150 returned from members of the community.

An unofficial poll conducted by the Landmark on the newspaper’s website resulted in similar numbers.

“This is an overwhelming response,” Hurlburt said.

He added that the response the district received for this survey was two or three times greater than the response they typically receive for surveys about the district’s strategic plans.

Although the final survey results still have to be tallied and officially submitted to the board by the committee, Hurlburt suggested that the young protesters would be getting their wish.

“I don’t want to speak for the committee, but I think the numbers speak for themselves,” he said. “The committee will be reporting information to the board at the next meeting, but I anticipate that this is pretty telling.”

Still, Hurlburt expressed the hope that some things in the district would change as a result of this debate.

“One of the positive things that comes out of this is a pride in the district and in the school, and I hope we can turn that into keeping the momentum going forward,” he said. “We need a lot of support in a lot of areas from the community, and hopefully this stirs that up.”