Pasco looks for school names

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 3, 2013 

The Pasco School District is looking for suggestions to name the three new elementary schools it will open in the next two years.

District officials said names connected to scientists, STEM innovations or scientific and mathematical concepts are preferred because of the schools' expected STEM, or science, technology, engineering and math, curriculum.

Nominations will be accepted until the end of the month, officials said in a release.

The schools, which include two traditional elementary schools and an early learning center, are being paid for with a $46.8 million bond approved by voters in February. The first school will open in August 2014 with the other two in 2015.

A school naming committee will review all name suggestions and provide a list of recommendations to the Pasco School Board later this fall. Board members will have final say when naming the schools.

Along with a preference for suggestions connected to STEM, the committee will use the following criteria in reviewing nominations, names that are:

w Known and significant to people living in the district.

w Do not conflict with the name of another Pasco school.

w Not for living people except in special circumstances and only will be considered if that person is representative of and has strong connections to the Pasco community, is an inspiration to others and has overcome obstacles to achieve success.

In recent years the board named Chiawana High School for a Native American word meaning "father of water" or "big river," and Virgie Robinson Elementary in east Pasco for a longtime Pasco resident.

However, Maya Angelou Elementary School was named after the prominent poet and author for her tenacity, contributions to literature and fluency in several languages.

The naming process hasn't been without controversy. A naming committee in 2000 said the district's newest middle school should be named after farm labor activist Cesar Chavez.

The board instead named the school after astronaut Ellen Ochoa, whose name was a distant third in the committee's list of suggested names. The decision brought criticism from the state Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

Nominations can be emailed to STEMnames@psd1.org. Community members wishing to join the naming committee can call 509-543-2159 or email planning principal Deidre Holmberg at dholmberg@psd1.org.

w Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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