Want to name the new school?


visalia – As a parent, you’ve named your children, a pet and probably a car at one time. And now is your chance to help name a school.

Visalia Unified School District is accepting nominations to name the new elementary school under construction at the corner of Giddings Street and Glendale Avenue behind the Riverway Sports Park. Nominations must be submitted by Sept. 10 and only names that follow the district’s naming guidelines will be considered. The form for submitting a name can be found by clicking “Naming of the new school” under the “About Us” drop down menu on the district’s web site, vusd.org.

Adopted in 1997, the district’s policy regarding school names was revised 10 years ago and allows names to fall into three main categories: landmarks and regions; cultural and historical references to native plants; and after an individual. The latter comes with a list of restrictions meant to prevent the overuse of names. The individual must have been a resident of Visalia Unified School District and may only be a state or national figure if they lived in the area. The individual must have spent multiple decades working to specifically improve the communities served by the district through a local public school in the district, community development and the health and safety of youth. Only deceased individuals who have been gone for at least one year may be considered.

“The desire to name a school after an individual is an act to specifically honor one person. This inherently limits the extent to which a broad-based school community associates with an individual person. Because high schools and middle schools serve a broad area of feeder schools and neighborhoods, they will not be named after an individual or family. Naming an elementary school after an individual is deemed a highly unique and exceptional honor and shall be considered only after meeting specific standards and criteria.”

Names of distinguished individuals who do not meet the criteria for naming of a new school, may be considered for specific buildings/facilities/athletic grounds within a school site, such as a gymnasium, courtyard or garden. Also, commercial developments are not eligible for consideration.

After the deadline, a committee made up of board members, business representatives and the assistant superintendent will review the list of all the names and recommend a name from the list. This name will be presented to the School Board, which will have the final decision on the name of the school.

In the case of Ridgeview Middle School, there were a number of “ridge” names on the list because you can actually see the Sierra Nevada mountains from the academic building’s second floor.

This name reflects the environment surrounding the new school and, in particular, the view of the Sierra Nevada foothills from the second floor of the new school’s academic building. A committee of students, parents, community members, and board members worked together to make recommendations on school names, mascots, and colors. The committee worked from a list of potential names and mascots developed from a survey of hundreds of students who will attend the school next year. The school name, mascot, and colors were confirmed by the Visalia Unified Board of Trustees by a 4-2 vote at their Feb. 23 meeting.

The opinion of students was particularly important in the selection of the new school’s name, mascot, and colors. Among the most popular mascot during the selection process was “Raptors.” A raptor is a bird of prey, not the dinosaur made popular by the Jurassic Park movies. The mascot underscores a connection to the elementary schools that the students who will attend Ridgeview Middle School. The mascots of those elementary schools are various types of birds. The board selected purple and white as the school colors. Ridgeview Middle School, the fifth middle school in Visalia Unified, is set to open to students in August 2016.

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