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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on March 18th, 2020, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 3 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 3

New Santa Maria-Bonita school name waiting until April

By MALEA MARTIN

Santa Maria-Bonita School District’s (SMBSD) new elementary school, slated to open for students and staff at the beginning of the 2020 school year, is one step closer to having a name. 

Currently referred to under a working title of “new school No. 21,” the district convened a school naming committee to narrow down public submissions for the new school, in accordance with board policy. At the March 11 SMBSD school board meeting, committee chair Dr. Patty Grady gave an update to the board on how the process is coming along.

Grady explained to the board members and meeting attendees how she and her committee, which was selected through a lottery process, are working to narrow 138 name submissions from the community down to just three that they will present to the board on April 8. Committee members include two elementary students, a teacher, a principal, parents, and others involved with the project. 

“Though it’s chosen by the board, we have to make sure that the name is also accepted by the community,” Grady told the Sun. Grady retired last year after working with the district since 1993 in a variety of roles, including teaching, as a principal, and in human resources. 

Grady previously chaired the naming committee for Jiménez Elementary School back in 2016. She said the number of submissions this time around nearly doubled, going from 72 to 138.

“I think a lot of it has to do with the change of technology,” Grady said of the increased community participation. “We are communicating with our parents more.”

The names submitted varied from nationally recognized politicians and historical figures—“Donald J. Trump” and “Harriet Tubman” both made the initial list—to names that signify local landmarks or industries, like “Strawberry Fields.” Grady said that her committee’s decision will come down to what best represents the community.

“I had someone submit a comment that said, ‘We are Santa Maria and this name needs to represent who we are,’” Grady said. “People are passionate about us being represented in terms of the different ethnicities here, our agriculture, the people that have come through Santa Maria that have done good things for our community.”

While the naming committee planned to meet in person on March 16 to further narrow their options—which as of the March 11 board meeting were down to 17 possible names—Grady said the committee will instead meet via conference call due to health concerns over COVID-19. However, she does not see these precautions having an impact on the committee’s timeline and still plans to have three final names to present at the next board meeting.

Over the coming weeks, the naming committee will continue to narrow the pool down to options that reflect not just the district and its values, but the community at large, Grady said.

“I want to make sure the committee members don’t come with a name they already want, because it’s not about what the committee wants,” Grady said. “It’s about what the community wants. We’re reaching under a bigger umbrella, more than just the district umbrella.”








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