Perhaps the most unheralded local election is the one scheduled for Nov. 5 at the Seaside elementary and middle schools.
That day, students will decide on the names of their new schools after relocation in 2020.
Gearhart Elementary will join The Heights and the middle school will comprise one wing of the new high school and middle school structure at the new campus site in the Southeast Hills.
The purpose for a new name, Seaside School District board committee members said in May, is to represent “a merge and true new start.”
Broadway Middle School is named after the street where it has stood since it was built in 1949.
In preparation for the transition, the Bringing Our Elementary Schools Together, or BEST, committee wants to guide the community through a process of selecting a new name, mascot, and school colors to encompass elementary students starting in the 2020-21 school year. Middle-schoolers will vote on a name for their new campus, which, although under the same roof as Seaside High School, will seek its own identity.
The committee started developing the idea of a name and branding change during the summer of 2018.
They attended a workshop on school culture and climate hosted by the Northwest Regional ESD and gathered ideas for blending staff and student bodies together.
Next, they distributed a survey to staff members to gather their opinions on the pros and cons of the transition to the new campus and subsequently held two joint staff meetings.
The decision will be up to students.
“We wanted to tie it in with election day in November so our students could experience and learn about the voting process as well,” Heights principal Juliann Wozniak said.
The website nearbymountains.com offers some lovely examples of local names in those hills, and any of those could give birth to a new name. Consider “Twin Peaks Elementary School,” the mountain near Klootchy Creek — with apologies to filmmaker David Lynch.
Klootchy High has a cool ring to it, even if it does sound slightly vulgar. More euphonious mountain areas include Davis Point, Rippet Mountain and Clark’s Mountain. Saddle Mountain School has a nice ring to it.
Seaside might choose to honor a founding father (or mother), or a historical figure. The Lewis and Clark brand is spread thin, but what about naming a school in honor of Robert Gray, the commercial seaman who completed the first American circumnavigation of the world in 1790 before coming on and naming the Columbia River on his second voyage two years later.
How about Washington Irving, whose “Astoria, or Anecdotes of an Enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains,” published in 1836, introduced more readers to the Pacific Northwest than any single book up to that time? And of course, the author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”
Other historical footnote favorites include Willard and Weiser, immortal members of the 1805-06 salt making expedition in Seaside, immortalized in a historical marker at the south end of the Prom at Avenue U. These guys were making salt before the Morton’s girl carried an umbrella.
From the Clatsop and Chinook tribes, there are chiefs Concomly, Coboway and Cuscular, who welcomed the Corps of Discovery to the Coast, and Tsin-is-tum, also known as Jenny Michel, remembered as a source of folklore of the Clatsop people. Imagine naming the school after a Clatsop tribe member — and a woman at that. Tsin-is-tum married the last chief of the Nehalem people, Wah-tat-kum — a rather unwieldy name at that for an elementary school.
The committee could also turn to contemporary figures for inspiration.
I am told that the Dooley Bridge on 101 is named after a former Department of Transportation official — perhaps a building official would be appropriate for naming. My hat’s off to these guys who are putting pyramids on our precarious hillside.
Perhaps students and staff would like to pay tribute to a person who made an overall contribution to the community? The Bob Chisholm Community Center is an example, named after a former public works employee and firefighter who died trying to save a drowning victim.
So is the Don Larson Building, named in 2017 after the former mayor who was influential in the construction of the library in 2008.
Sgt. Jason Goodding, the police officer killed in the line of duty in February 2016, could prove a fine choice.
Raise your hand if you know all the local school nicknames. They’re the Gearhart Eagles, The Heights Beavers and the Broadway Middle School Sharks.
I love the name the Seagulls, a name shared with Seaside by the San Francisco collegiate baseball Seagulls, the Salisbury (Maryland) Seagulls, and the former Mobile (Alabama) Seagulls, a professional indoor football team that went defunct in 2001. (If anyone suggested changing that name, I’d imagine they’d best leave town.) Maybe the elementary school should be known as the “Little Gulls.”
But of course other nearby birds — puffins, osprey and plover — all carry a certain cachet.
And once you turn to the sea, well you’ve got the Whales, the Seals — and maybe even the Razor Clams, Sand Crabs or Jumbo Shrimp.
Students, staff and community members will submit their ideas, Wozniak said, before a committee of teachers, parents, school board members and community members narrow the choices.
“Then students will get to ‘vote’ on election day for their favorite,” she said. “Then we will bring the new name, mascot and colors to the board for final approval.”
A website will be up for input.
Forms will be made available at the Seaside Farmer’s Market, fall conferences, registration, and online. The committee — with the inclusion of a community member and board member — will narrow down the suggestions to two choices.
Throughout December through June 2020, the committee will work to develop branding and new T-shirts for the students. So pick carefully.