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What's in a name?

What's in a name?

Second high school naming committee weighs legacies to define local history

October 12th, 2017 by Phillip Sitter in Local News

A sign marking the future site of the second Jefferson City High School sits off Missouri 179.

Photo by Shelby Kardell /Fulton Sun.

Jefferson City Public Schools' "2nd High School Naming Committee" is mulling over the submitted name suggestions as shared Tuesday at the group's meeting, and the responsibility of putting forth some names to the Board of Education and then the public to decide the course of local history is not lost on the committee's members.

"It definitely puts a lot of weight to it," committee member Melissa Hatfield said Wednesday of the idea of being responsible for a community legacy that will last decades.

Hatfield is a 1991 graduate of Jefferson City High School. She later taught there for four years and was also a counselor at Simonsen 9th Grade Center for a year. For the past 18 years or so, she's been an associate pastor of youth and missions at First Baptist Church.

"The primary thing I'm bringing to my decision-making process is conversations with people. That's one of my hopes of being part of this" — reaching out to groups she knows within the larger community, she said.

"I really don't care what the name ends up being," fellow committee member Derick Miles said. "I would look at things that I would think the city would be proud of to put on the building," Miles said of selecting a short list of names. "It makes for interesting dinner conversation with family."

Miles is a parent of a sixth-grader at Thomas Jefferson Middle School and a freshman at Simonsen. His wife is a 1993 JCHS graduate.

Members of the public recently submitted 1,212 name suggestions for the second high school to be built at Mission Drive off Missouri 179.

After being given the list Tuesday along with the 11 names that received 10 or more votes, the committee was told by facilitators Amy Berendzen and Mallory McGowin what to expect in the process going forward.

Berendzen is the district's director of school-community relations and McGowin is a communications and marketing specialist. They do not have voting power on the committee, nor do fellow non-voting members Director of Secondary Education Gary Verslues or Board of Education members Scott Hovis and Lori Massman.

At the committee's second meeting Oct. 24, the members will create a top 10 list of nominations and develop a short list of three to five names from that list to present to the Board of Education at its Nov. 13 meeting. The names the board likes will then be put forth to the public to electronically vote on through the rest of November, with the final result to be kept secret until the groundbreaking ceremony in January or February.

Berendzen said the Oct. 24 meeting is not an open forum and would prefer members of the public don't come. A recap will be made available publicly. (Editor's note: See correction below.)

However, people may be seeing and hearing suggested names in the coming days, as committee members were told Tuesday they aren't prohibited from sharing submitted names on social media.

"It's however you want to get feedback from the group you represent. That's why we picked a group like you all because you represent a lot of different areas and different stakeholders, and we want to tap into those," McGowin said at the meeting.

No new name suggestions will be accepted for consideration.

She said Wednesday residents were invited to be on the committee based on input from district-level officials and building leadership.

In addition to Hatfield and Miles, the other members of the naming committee for the second high school are Keith Enloe, Carlos Graham, Kim Hardin, Kya Harrell (an eighth-grader at Thomas Jefferson), James Janes, Janet Johnson, Paris Lewis, Brandy Martin, Elizabeth Milhollin, David Patton, Chad Rizner, Lindsey Rowden, Delora Scaggs, Brock Schofield (a seventh-grader at Thomas Jefferson), Lance Stegman, Donna Stone, Angie Sturm, Tommy Vick (a sixth-grader at Thomas Jefferson) and Rudy Wolfe.

Committee members were encouraged Tuesday to not feel bound in their decision-making by what the public voted as the most popular name choices.

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Capital City High School came in the lead in that regard with 371 suggestions.

Other popular options included Jefferson City High School — West, Mission High School and River City High School, though submissions also included proposals to name the school after local, state and national historic figures like Harry Truman, Daniel Morgan Boone, Lorenzo Greene, Sam B. Cook and Lloyd Gaines.

The committee received guidance Tuesday based on information gathered as "best practice" from other members of the Missouri School Public Relations Association about naming new buildings: Names should have longevity and provide special meaning to students, staff and the community; names that suggest a geographical direction are not favored; and names that include the name of a living person will generally not be approved by the board.

The second high school's mascot and school colors will be selected next spring in a similar fashion.

Design of the school logo and mascot will happen in fall 2018.

The name of the existing high school will not be changed. McGowin said Tuesday that Superintendent Larry Linthacum "made that clear in his presentations throughout the campaign that we're not talking about changing the name of that facility, just the second facility."

Correction: The Oct. 24 meeting of Jefferson City Public Schools' second high school naming committee will be open to the public, but the discussion and work conducted will only be done by committee members. Those attending are welcome to watch and listen to the committee, but the only interaction will be between committee members.