Push to dedicate field to fallen soldier grows, but policy says no

Push to dedicate field to fallen soldier grows, but policy says no »Play Video
Photos courtesy of Pfc. Keller's family.

BEAVERTON, Ore. – He gave his life for his country after a standout football career in Beaverton but why won't his high school dedicate its football field in his honor?

Six weeks ago Andrew Keller's family got the horrible news he'd been killed in Afghanistan. In that short time span support for renaming the field at Southridge High School has come from thousands of people.

But the school district has a policy that prohibits changing the name of the football field to honor people. But a growing number of people say it's been done in other school districts and they ask, why not in this one, too?

On his way to graduating in 2008 from Southridge, Keller became captain of his football team and most valuable player. Then he dedicated his life to the Army where 32 days into his duty in Afghanistan he was killed.

At Friday's game his high school honored his family and retired Keller's No. 13.

But more than 5,000 people on Facebook want a more permanent honor. They and his parents want "Andrew Keller Memorial Field."

"I want to see, 10 to 15 years from now, I want to see Andrew's generation grown up with their own children, and I want them to walk out onto that football field – I want that little 10-year-old boy or girl to look up there and say, 'Dad, who is Andrew Keller?' And I want them to say, 'Let me tell you about him,' said Keller's father Jeff.

The Beaverton School District has a policy that prohibits naming any facility, like a football field or auditorium, after a person.

The district is concerned how changing the policy would create tough dilemmas in how to handle situations where students have died from an accident or illness.

"Our board will have to weigh this very carefully," said Beaverton School District spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler. "We're aware there is strong support for this. We have been following social media and what have you, and it's a great tribute to Andrew Keller and what he sacrificed for our country. And his memory here at the school is important to the community. So we’ll see what happens with the school board."

The school board has assigned a committee to look at whether the naming policy should be changed. That process could take three or four months. Keller's father said if the process gets ugly, the family will back out because a fight is not what they want.