Kennewick begins process to name new middle school

Workers have started building the block walls at Kennewick School District’s middle school No. 5 construction site near Southridge High School.
Workers have started building the block walls at Kennewick School District’s middle school No. 5 construction site near Southridge High School. Tri-City Herald

The eventual home of Kennewick’s fifth middle school won’t be ready for more than a year, but the effort to name it and determine other parts of its identity is officially under way.

The Kennewick School District has launched an online survey asking district residents to give their suggestions for the future school’s name, mascot and colors. The survey is open until Oct. 23 and can be reached via a link on the district’s website.

Kevin Pierce, the school’s new principal; his planning team of teachers, and district officials are working on other aspects of getting the school ready to open next fall in what is currently Desert Hills Middle School.

The name is important, they said.

“We definitely want something original and creative,” Pierce said. “The first symbolic act is to give it its own identity.”

The new middle school, across from the Southridge Sports Complex, and a new elementary school under construction in the Sagecrest development will be the first new schools in the district since Cottonwood Elementary School opened in 2010 in west Kennewick.

The district expects a quick turnaround on the name. A committee will review the suggestions. More community feedback could be collected. Pierce also plans to meet with students at the district’s middle schools to get their thoughts.

The committee will narrow the options down to three or four and present them to the school board, with one recommendation and the rest as alternates. The board could see the names at its first November meeting, but it might hold off on a decision until later.

All suggestions will be weighed against established guidelines to naming district facilities. Names involving individuals will only be considered if the person attained national or local prominence in education, the arts and sciences, politics, military achievements, statesmanship or for other notable deeds. All past U.S. presidents and any U.S. senators or representatives from the state are also allowable, as are names derived from geographic features or other important events.

All of the district’s middle schools — Park, Horse Heaven Hills, Desert Hills and Highlands — are named after natural or geographic attributes of the land around them, but that isn’t required.

“Our board really wants community input,” said Assistant Superintendent Ron Williamson.

Pierce doesn’t want to keep referring to his school as Middle School No. 5, he said, but a name and colors and a mascot will also help students.

It will give the school’s seventh- and eighth-graders, who will all have been at other middle schools previously, a way to get excited, especially since they’ll spend the first half of next fall in the old Desert Hills until their new building is ready in January 2017.

As for those making suggestions for the name, don’t fret if it doesn’t make the cut. You’ll have another opportunity soon enough, as the district will start the naming process for the new elementary school later this fall.

Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402;; Twitter: @_tybeaver