The elementary school at the Key site is close to getting a new name, and it will not be after a person.
A naming committee is proposing Innovation Elementary School, or Gateway Elementary School as an alternate, for the school building 2300 Key Blvd. The Arlington School Board will choose a name on Thursday, March 11 ahead of the school opening to students this fall.
“We really feel like Innovation represents a skill and an ideal that we want our children to get from their elementary school experience,” the new school’s principal Claire Peters said.
The new school at the Key site, which is currently used by a Spanish immersion choice program, will be a neighborhood school, and it was created by a controversial swap involving multiple schools.
The school will be populated with students who live in the fast-growing Rosslyn area, including some who were previously zoned for Arlington Science Focus School.
Absent from the top two was the preferred choice among a group of survey respondents — Grace Hopper Elementary School — named for computer engineer and university teacher Naval Rear Admiral Grace Hopper.
Fresh from renaming what is now Washington-Liberty High School, and in the thick of efforts to remove names of Confederate generals and soldiers and slave-owners from Arlington’s roads and parks, committee members and at least one School Board member said they want to avoid people entirely.
“We had a very significant discussion around naming a school after a person, and it was clear from both the comments we received in the survey and comments that our committee brought back from their community that naming a school after a person is a divisive choice,” the new school’s principal Claire Peters recently told the School Board.
School Board member Reid Goldstein concurred.
“I was cringing a little bit when I saw the name because lately, I’ve been shying away from naming schools after individuals,” he said.
School staff said Gateway would reference the school’s location as the gateway to Arlington from Washington and communicate the idea that an education is a gateway to a bright future.
The other suggested names were Polaris Elementary School and Summa Elementary School of Arlington.
The survey generated nearly 400 responses, as well as 74 comments, including a few in Spanish or Mongolian.
More than half of respondents said they were community members, while the rest said they were parents of students going to the new school, parents of students at other schools, APS staff or business owners.
“This was a very small representation of the community that will be served by this elementary school,” Wilson said.
Arlington Science Focus School students also picked their favorite names: Gateway came in first and Innovation in fourth.
Photos via Arlington Public Schools
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