Friday, 18 March 2016

What's In A Name?

With the recent announcement of a new school to be built in Fort St John people are talking . Our architects have drawn up an  exciting concept of what the new school will look like. Contractors have been selected and, with an aggressive construction timeline soon to begin, the new building will soon start to take shape in the north west corner of town.

The new school will be the first entirely new structure the district has constructed in many years. Additions have been made at North Peace Secondary both at the main campus and at the Energetic Learning Campus housed within the Pomeroy Sports Centre, but as far as free standing brand new facilities, the new school will be the first one constructed since the late 1980's.  With the promise of a larger than normal gymnasium and the possibility of connected day care facilities, the new building will be a tremendous addition to its community.

When one considers all the decisions that are going into what the new school will include, or look like, what to call it may seem to be a relatively minor decision. But names help forge identities and what a building is called can help set the tone for how it is regarded. Naming rights have become big business in the corporate and sports world. Many of us grew up recognizing such venues as Maple Leaf Gardens, the Form or Pacific Coliseum long before folks realized the  revenue opportunities created in the Air Canada Centre, Bell Centre or Rogers Arena.

Public schools don't sell their naming rights, but there are still many considerations to consider in naming a building. In SD 60 the traditional practice has been to name schools either after the geographic location they serve (Central, Clearview, Charlie Lake) or after persons of historic significance (Robert Ogilvie, Dr. Kearney, CM Finch). Recently trustees reviewed and endorsed the district's school naming guidelines. In considering whether new names should recognize people or places, the district is seeking input from the public. Nominated names should be in good taste, represent the cultural and gender diversity of town, be clearly different from the names already in use and be able to stand the test of time. Any names of people should be of persons no longer living who have made significant contributions to the history, culture or community of the area.

People wanting to give suggestions are asked to send them to the attention of Leah Reimer at lreimer@prn.bc.ca. The board will collect suggestions through to the end of April and then decide on a new name in time to make an announcement when construction starts later this spring. For now the new school is being referred to as the northwest elementary.  What its called in the future might depend on what trustees hear over the next weeks!