Archive for Friday, January 14, 2011

First Bell: Enter naming game for junior highs; superintendent encourages backpack searches; 2012 graduation may move to weeknight(s); students ready for Future City regionals

January 14, 2011


Members of the Lawrence school board voted Thursday night to close all four of the district's junior high schools, but that didn't come as a shock.

The closing plan — shut the junior highs down at the end of the day June 30, then reopen them as middle schools at the beginning of July 1 — was a mere formality, part of the district's ongoing reconfiguration of schools to promote students success, etc.

Farewell junior highs. Hail middle schools.

But board members also voted to seek entirely new names for the schools themselves. Gone would be the familiar Central, South, Southwest and West names that have been on the junior highs for years.

Now that the buildings are becoming middle schools beginning in 2011-12, four board members — Mary Loveland, Marlene Merrill, Rich Minder and Vanessa Sanburn — voted to go in a different direction, or at least give the public a chance to encourage them to approve new names if so recommended.

"We can, as a community, come up with more creative names," Sanburn said. "Let's give the schools the opportunity to discuss it. We can always come back and keep them the same."

So let's give them some advice.

Go ahead and e-mail your ideas for naming the middle schools. Or post them in the comments below. Don't hesitate to offer your reasoning, or your connection to the school, or anything else you think might help the process along.

We here at First Bell plan to stay on this one for a while.


Attention, parents of fifth- and sixth-graders in the Lawrence school district: The superintendent wants you to search their backpacks today.

The target: A note passed out at school, one providing all you need to know about upcoming open houses for next year’s middle schools.

“Find that piece of information,” Doll said Thursday night, urging parents. “This is really important.”

Related document

Middle School Orientation Info Sheet ( .PDF )

But just in case your student doesn’t want you digging through their stuff — these are going to be middle schoolers, after all — we here at First Bell can give you the basic facts:

• “Central” Middle School (the current Central Junior High School): Parental orientation is Feb. 15, at 5:30 p.m. for parents of fifth-graders and at 6:15 p.m. for parents of sixth-graders.

• “South” Middle School (the current South Junior High School): Parental orientation is at 5:45 p.m. Feb. 17 for parents of fifth- and sixth-graders.

• “Southwest” Middle School (the current Southwest Junior High School): Parental orientation is at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17 for parents of fifth- and sixth-graders.

• “West” Middle School (the current West Junior High School): Parental orientation is Feb. 17, at 6 p.m. for parents of fifth-graders and at 7 p.m. for parents of sixth-graders.

Need more information? Either click here or download the "Middle School Orientation Info Sheet" you see here to get the actual document going out today in backpacks.


Thursday night’s meeting of the Lawrence school board didn’t include much pomp and circumstance, but the future of the Lawrence school district’s high school graduations did come up.

Board members acknowledge being open to the idea of scheduling 2012 graduation ceremonies for Free State and Lawrence high schools either during a single weeknight or two consecutive weeknights.

The goal: Avoid conflicting with Kansas University’s graduation, which already is set for May 20, 2012, and keep from leaving seniors hanging until the next weekend, which would be Memorial Day weekend and a full 10 days after they had taken their last finals.

Potential solution: Conduct graduations on successive evenings, such as Monday, May 21 and Tuesday, May 22. Also possible: Conduct both ceremonies Tuesday: at 6 p.m. for one school and 8 p.m. for another.

Board members made no decisions Thursday. Instead, they referred the issue back to the district’s calendar committee for a recommendation, expected to be back for approval Jan. 24.


Teams from three of Lawrence’s soon-to-be middle schools are participating Saturday in the Future City regional competition at Kansas State University, in Manhattan.

The competition is part of a national program that allows eighth-, seventh- and — this, year, for the first time — sixth-graders in “conceptualizing, innovating and implementing ground-breaking infrastructure, delivery systems, technologies, devices and products.”

That’s right, engineering.

This year’s assignment involves health care. Specifically: “Providing a Reliable and Effective Health Care Product or System the Improves a Sick, Injured or Disabled Patient’s Quality of Life and Comfort.”

Lawrence’s entries come from Central, Southwest and West junior high schools.

Winners in Manhattan will advance to the finals Feb. 18-22, during National Engineers Week, in Washington, D.C.

Grand prize: a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.

— The First Bell e-mailbox is always open:


SUVCW6165 7 years, 2 months ago

When the school board is looking at cutting things across the board to deal with budget cuts, it seems silly to rename the schools. That would mean having to pay to replace everything from notepads to school signs. There is a reason they have had the names for years. They are simple and they work. In fact, I don't see why they even have to labelled middle school.

momof2ku 7 years, 2 months ago

I couldn't agree with you more! It would be a huge waste of money.

Cogito_Ergo_Es 7 years, 2 months ago

Not to mention the logo'd wear the children already have and PTO's have to sell in their coffers currently. Anything not sold in the next four months (and really who'd buy anything the last month of school) will be obsolete and worthless. They might have mentioned this last year, so people could plan accordingly. Doesn't effect the school district budget of course, but your comment SUVCW6165 is definitely valid. I was also surprised there was so much discussion after Sanburn came up with the idea to let the public decide, that was an obvious choice. If we want to keep it the same, we can.

Dave McClain 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree with SUV.. With cutbacks to school funding, larger class room sizes, etc., how is it that the board can justify spending money on new signage, and all the other expenses that go into changing names, including the labor expense of the time just looking into changing the names. I know of kids at Free State in classrooms without desks, sitting in chairs at the back of the room because the room is not big enough to accomodate 2 more desks and the class size is too large. But we can spend money putting up a new sign, and ordering all new stationary, etc? Let's get some business sense!

Nikki May 7 years, 2 months ago

Leave the names. I like the traditional. And it's just a preference, but the cost of it that others bring up is a good point to back me up.

JustNoticed 7 years, 2 months ago

"superintendent encourages backpack searches" And I was all ready to post a privacy screed. Very cute. Ha. Ha. Ha. (please enable sarcasm detectors)

hujiko 7 years, 2 months ago

Altering toponyms tends only to confuse, and doesn't serve a practical purpose. A good example would be the changing of 15th Street west of Iowa to Bob Billings Parkway several years back. No actual problems were addressed when renaming the street, in fact it only generated complications in giving directions. So why fix something that isn't broken?

JustNoticed 7 years, 2 months ago

I just learned some beautiful new words. I went to wikipedia immediately and found:

"Toponymy is the scientific study of place names (toponyms), their origins, meanings, use and typology. The word "toponymy" is derived from the Greek words tópos (τόπος) ("place") and ónoma (ὄνομα) ("name"). Toponymy is itself a branch of onomastics, the study of names of all kinds. Toponymy is distinct from, though often confused with etymology, which is the study of the origins of words."

You have made my day, thank you!

hthom 7 years, 2 months ago

If Central has to change, it should get back to its roots as Liberty Memorial Middle School

lori 7 years, 2 months ago

If we must change the names, I agree; Central should change back to Liberty Memorial.

amarieed 7 years, 2 months ago

Even before seeing the previous post--I was totally on the same mind track. Central should definitely reclaim the "Liberty Memorial" name and be called Liberty Memorial Middle School. What a great way to invite discussions of history into the everyday experience!

(Example: as a Free State HS grad, I often had to explain why my high school had such an "odd" name to my college peers, which usually lead to everyone in the conversation learning something new about the Civil War era)

rumor_man 7 years, 2 months ago

Fritzel Middle School and Comptom Middle School should be at the top of the list.

Jeanne Cunningham 7 years, 2 months ago

Leave the names alone. Who CARES if it's called a Junior High or a MIddle School??? Do NOT spend ANY money for new signs, new stationary, new WHATEVER!!! If there is ANY money whatsover that is available to be spent, spend it on something IMPORTANT!!! R U kidding???

sissezz 7 years, 2 months ago

I agree.....just leave the names the way they are. Do we need a poll on this..?

somedude20 7 years, 2 months ago

why don;t they sell the rights to naming the schools and make some mad loot at the same time. Target Middle School, Buffalo Wild Wings High, The Outhouse Schoolhouse are a few ideas

Go Steelers!!

douglas6280 7 years, 2 months ago

How about Clinton Middle School, Carter Middle School, Obama Middle School, and Pelosi Middle School?

Betty Bartholomew 7 years, 2 months ago

What is the reasoning behind not choosing May 19th, a Saturday, for the HS graduations?

I live near Freestate and would rather have traffic flubbed up near my neighborhood on a Saturday than on a weeknight.

Laura Wilson 7 years, 2 months ago

I don't know when they moved graduation off of a weeknight to Sunday, but I graduated on a Tuesday night back in the 80s. I've never understood why it's been competing with KU for the last I have no clue number of years. Everyone else had school and seniors used the day to practice in both the fieldhouse and stadium and then we had the ceremony that evening.

And keep the names! Way too expensive to change them.

Clark Coan 7 years, 2 months ago

I like nature names such as Sunflower or topographical names such as Prairie Park, Sunset Hill or Hillcrest. Who remembers who Opel Kennedy was?

Sometimes historical names are good--Free State is pretty good and Langston Hughes was such a famous poet, it is pretty good. Broken Arrow is ironic because the land it is on was Haskell land until 1950s when it was "surplused" by the BIA.

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