Let the kids name the school

The Prince George Citizen - - Opinion - — Ed­i­tor-in-chief Neil God­bout

Ev­ery­body in Fort St. John is talk­ing about the new el­e­men­tary school un­der con­struc­tion. Why? Be­cause the school board has asked for sug­ges­tions from lo­cal res­i­dents on what it should be called. While the work­ing ti­tle of the school is North­east el­e­men­tary, School Dis­trict 60 has re­ceived more than 70 sub­mis­sions to name the two-storey, $31.1-mil­lion school set to open in the fall of 2020.

With the Fort St. John hos­pi­tal right across the street, many of the suggested names rec­og­nize health care pi­o­neers.

The top vote-get­ter so far, ac­cord­ing to a story in The Cit­i­zen’s sis­ter news­pa­per, The Alaska High­way News, is Anne Young, the first reg­is­tered nurse in the North Peace, who ar­rived in the area from Eng­land in 1930.

She de­liv­ered more than 300 ba­bies dur­ing her 25-year ca­reer, fre­quently mak­ing horse­back house calls in bad weather to reach her pa­tients.

Along with other his­tor­i­cal names, there have been sev­eral Dane-zaa words suggested to rec­og­nize the area’s Indige­nous peo­ple and an­ces­try.

Spe­cial thanks to the witty mo­rons who suggested Schooly McS­chool­face.

That doesn’t re­flect School Dis­trict 60 nam­ing pro­to­col, which looks for names of geo­graphic ar­eas or in­di­vid­u­als of his­toric, cul­tural, or so­cial sig­nif­i­cance if they have been dead for at least five years.

If the newly elected School Dis­trict 57 school board wants to gen­er­ate more ex­cite­ment about the re­place­ment for Kelly Road Sec­ondary School cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion and also slated for open­ing in fall 2020, maybe it should ask for lo­cal in­put on a new name for the Hart high school, with par­tic­u­lar em­pha­sis on the neigh­bour­hood’s pref­er­ence.

Maybe peo­ple in the area are quite happy with keep­ing it Kelly Road but maybe they’d like to have a dis­cus­sion about a new name for their new school.

By way of back­ground, John Kelly, a sur­veyor and owner of a watch and jew­elry shop in Prince Ge­orge’s early days, would still have Kelly Road and Kelly Street off Fifth Av­enue named af­ter him, so no his­toric slight by tak­ing his name off the school.

This could be a great lo­cal his­tory as­sign­ment for stu­dents at Kelly Road’s feeder el­e­men­tary schools – Hart High­lands, Glen­view, Nukko Lake, Spring­wood and Heather Park – to make a case to name the high school they will even­tu­ally at­tend. Cur­rent Kelly Road stu­dents, par­tic­u­larly the ones study­ing his­tory, could also take part.

There’s no short­age of in­di­vid­u­als from Prince Ge­orge’s his­tory de­serv­ing of their name on Kelly Road high school, from Granny Sey­mour and Mary John to Brid­get Morgan and Ted Wil­liams.

At The Cit­i­zen, we’re par­tial to John Hous­ton, the founder of Prince Ge­orge’s first news­pa­per (al­though he has a whole town al­ready named af­ter him), or L.D. Tay­lor, the first ed­i­tor of The Cit­i­zen, who was also elected mayor of Van­cou­ver a record eight times.

Any­how, school dis­trict trus­tees could look at a short­list of his­tory es­says writ­ten by el­e­men­tary stu­dents and cur­rent Kelly Road stu­dents be­fore mak­ing the fi­nal choice.

Imag­ine the pride of the stu­dent who picks the win­ner.

The best way to keep his­tory alive is to rec­og­nize de­serv­ing in­di­vid­u­als when we name streets, parks and im­por­tant civic build­ings.

The best path to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion with the Abo­rig­i­nal com­mu­nity is to re­name com­mu­nity places in their hon­our, to rec­og­nize the sig­nif­i­cant role they play in our past, present and fu­ture, like the City of Prince Ge­orge did in nam­ing Lhei­dli T’en­neh Me­mo­rial Park. Re­gard­less of the fi­nal name cho­sen, the com­mu­nity wins.

Ron Brent and D.P. Todd are the only two schools in Prince Ge­orge named af­ter an in­di­vid­ual (the Cen­tre for Learn­ing Al­ter­na­tives used to be named af­ter John McInnis). Maybe it’s time to rec­og­nize some­one else from this city’s rich and proud his­tory.

How about it, School Dis­trict 57?

Maybe peo­ple in the area are quite happy with keep­ing it Kelly Road but maybe they’d like to have a dis­cus­sion about a new name for their new school.

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