Editor’s note: Staff writer Jonathan Kleppinger is a member of the committee named in this story that will make a recommendation on a name for the new school.
Members of the community that the new elementary school will serve are preparing to make a recommendation to the school board on a name for the new facility off Union Mill Road.
Andi McNeal, currently the principal at Wilmore Elementary, was named the principal of the new school in November. She has assembled a group of nine who will meet next week to discuss the name of the school, which is set to open in the fall.
The committee includes a parent from the district, a custodian, a teacher, other community members and some school staff.
McNeal said she is hearing a lot of support for the name of East Jessamine Elementary — a name that would fit geographically as the school sits on the same parcel of land as East Middle and East High.
The lack of an equivalent West Jessamine Elementary has been the primary concern about the East name. McNeal said she is not in favor of East Jessamine Elementary.
“For me, it would be (an issue). I think it already sets kids up for the rivalry, and we do that already for middle and high. I just would rather not do that with our little kids ... I just want it to have an identity of its own.”
The district has solicited suggestions on its Facebook page, pulling in a wide range of responses based on geography, history and people.
Old one-room schoolhouses in the area have inspired names like Hickman Creek and Red Oak, which McNeal said is her “personal favorite.”
“The whole idea of a tiny acorn growing into a mighty oak with the work that we do for five or six years with kids — I like that kind of thing, plus I love that that school is right down the road,” she said.
Jessamine County Schools had a policy against naming new buildings after people until the school board amended that in 2009 when it named the new administration building after Pete Royse. The policy now allows using a person’s name for a building only if the person “has performed lengthy, outstanding and meritorious leadership and contributions” to the schools.
Suggestions of names have included former superintendent C.R. Hager, former teacher, principal and administrator Paul Hamann and current superintendent Lu Young.
The Jessamine County Board of Education will have the final say at its regular meeting Feb. 25.
“We just give a recommendation — the board could decide to name it Smith Elementary,” McNeal said.