(Updated at 11:05 a.m.) A new name is on the horizon for the elementary school at the Reed site in Westover, which is under construction and slated to open in August.
A naming committee, formed in January, is asking students, parents, staff and community members to narrow down five possible names: Cardinal, Compass, Exploration, Kaleidoscope and Passport. Respondents can pick their top three and share their perspectives.
The committee will then pick a first choice and an alternate, which will go to the School Board on Thursday, March 25. The board will pick a name on April 8.
The new school is part of the multi-school shuffle Arlington Public Schools approved in February 2020. Arlington Traditional School is moving to the McKinley building and 94% of McKinley students — and all staff — are moving to the Reed site, along with 43 K-4 Tuckahoe students.
Construction continues on schedule, according to a school spokesperson, and the building is expected to be completed on July 25.
As is true for the Key School site, which could be named Innovation or Gateway, this naming committee is not considering historical figures’ names. The preference for concepts comes after renaming Washington-Liberty High School and as Arlington attempts to remove names of Confederate generals and soldiers and slave-owners from roads and parks.
The committee “decided not to name the school after a person because of the possibility that their past could be called into question in the future,” according to notes from a February committee meeting.
Some members objected to McKinley because of the hurt Indigenous communities experienced from President William McKinley‘s imperialist policies, the notes said. McKinley is known for buying the Philippines, Guam and Puerto Rico and annexing Hawaii.
The decision comes despite some community support for McKinley: Of 152 staff and parents who responded to internal questionnaires, 75% supported McKinley. The site’s current name, Reed, which is named for Dr. Walter Reed, an Army physician who studied and treated yellow fever, also has supporters, according to the notes.
The committee also nixed Westover, which members said could reference Westover Plantation, owned by William Byrd II, who founded the City of Richmond and was noted for the often cruel treatment of enslaved people on the plantation.
“The committee decided the school should not be named after any of these options to represent the new beginning for the school, especially since in the future, the school will welcome students from other neighborhood schools,” the survey said.
While construction continues, the county is building a stormwater detention vault under the athletic fields of the Reed site to help the Westover area with its flooding problem. The first phase has started and will be completed before August, according to a February presentation to the PTA.
The second phase is currently being designed and is anticipated to be completed in the fall of 2022, and the fields could be ready by the spring or summer of 2023, the presentation said.
More on the proposed names, from the survey:
Cardinal: The Cardinal is currently the school’s mascot and the State Bird of Virginia. The Cardinal is a songbird that is mostly or partly red. In the winter months, Northern Cardinals forego their territorial ways and congregate together to form flocks that are called a college. Also, the Cardinal bird symbolizes confidence, leadership, unity and diversity because it is known for being a confident species and because they search for food in flocks during the winter months.
Compass: An instrument containing a magnetized pointer which shows the direction of magnetic north and bearings from it; an instrument for drawing circles and arcs and measuring distances between points.
Exploration: The action of traveling in or through an unfamiliar area in order to learn about it; thorough analysis of a subject or theme. Exploration describes how students will explore various subjects and topics during their time at the school and will sometimes encounter unfamiliar new challenges and subject area that their teachers and others at the school will help them overcome.
Kaleidoscope: McKinley’s exemplary project, The Kaleidoscope Project, comprehensively integrates the arts into all programs and classrooms. Through this arts-integrated approach, the school provides a rich school experience that develops critical and creative thinking, encourages problem-solving, provides feedback and opportunities for reflection, and sets the stage for academic achievement.
Passport: A passport ensures admission to or the achievement of something. Education serves as the passport to the future and success for students, so this name embodies the concept of students achieving academically by embarking on a journey to learn.