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Board plays name game
Person or place is the basic question, with relevancy, rhythm and rhyme thrown in.
By JEFFREY S. SOLOCHEK, Times Staff Writer
Published August 16, 2007
LAND O'LAKES - Would it always be a beautiful day in the neighborhood of a Fred Rogers Elementary School?
If a school were named after the Bellamy Brothers' mother, Frances, would kids be singing their hit If I Said You Have A Beautiful Body, Would You Hold It Against Me at pep rallies?
Silly questions, perhaps. But they're the kinds of things School Board members must ask themselves as they consider putting names to new schools, a task they again undertake Tuesday.
The district has yet unnamed schools in Wesley Chapel and Shady Hills slated to open in 2008.
Using a list of ideas submitted by the community, the board must look not only at its policy - rules bar naming a school after a district employee or board member until two years after retirement - but also at things like relevancy, rhythm and rhyme.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The board rejected pleas to name the new Wiregrass Ranch High without the "ranch" after hearing some of the potential rhyming school cheers. "Wiregrass will kick your a--."
In an acronym-happy district, where every school gets boiled down to initials, the school's abbreviation also matters. Shady Hills Institute of Technology, for instance, wouldn't work so well.
Even using a person's name can pose problems. When longtime principal Coy Pigman ran for superintendent in 1992, more than one board member heard grumblings from kids who said they wouldn't be caught dead attending a school named Pigman. No offense to the administrator, of course.
Marge Whaley, the board's senior member with 14 years, said the debate can get fairly intense, especially if someone on the board has strong opinions. She recalled her own strong opposition to the name Trinity Oaks Elementary, arguing it would be too confusing with Trinity Elementary so close by. (She lost.)
Whaley expressed hope that the board would stick with its general trend of not calling schools after people, except in unusual circumstances such as the late Paul R. Smith (a Medal of Honor recipient) and John Long (a respected former superintendent who recently died).
Allen Altman, one of two board members who has never named a school before, supported that idea.
"My preference for school buildings has always been that, if possible, they be named for an established community or neighborhood rather than an individual," Altman said. "It should be as much as possible identified with the community that it serves so there's community pride, buy-in and recognition."
Frank Parker, the other newbie, agreed. "It's easier to go with geography. That pretty much puts the school where it is," Parker said. "There are many deserving people out there. In reality, it's extremely difficult to pick one."
The list before the board includes several people, though, including some that have petitions behind them. There are former educators, board members, politicians and civic leaders among them.
Board members will be trying out the names in preparation - sometimes just saying one aloud seals the deal. Say "Doc Carl Cripe Elementary" and see how you like it. (He was a Pasco teacher in the early 1900s.)
"You have to think about such things," Whaley said.
Reach Jeffrey S. Solochek at email@example.com or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.
The Pasco School Board needs to name an elementary school in Wesley Chapel and a middle school in Shady Hills. Here are the suggestions from the community: