As Dexter Community Schools’ new elementary construction heads down the homeroom stretch, thoughts to naming the construction are also in the final stages.
At Monday night’s Board of Education meeting, principals Craig McCalla of Cornerstone Elementary and Ryan Bruder of Bates Elementary presented the Board with their results of community input and staff discussions that have produced three finalist name recommendations for the new complex.
In short, the new elementary school construction is a mirror image of Cornerstone Elementary. The two schools will be connected by a common area consisting of a “Market Place” and “Workshop” which are learning spaces that are designed for projects that need more space and flexibility than a traditional classroom.
Dexter Community School’s new construction = two separate elementary schools (Y5-2) side by side in one complex.
The naming process got off to a halting start this past August when the Board of Education settled in on naming both schools in the new construction “Cornerstone”. However, after community feedback on the choice, which included probable confusion of having two separate schools in one complex with the same name, the Board held a workshop on Sept. 24 incorporating the help of both elementary principals, Bruder and McCalla, in developing a process that would solicit community and staff input in the naming process.
The completed naming process was presented to the Board Oct. 8 and after a couple of adjustments, ready to go.
Step One in the process took place Oct. 18-19 when the staffs of both elementary schools were asked their opinion on two ideas:
- To keep the Cornerstone and Bates as names for each of the elementary schools in the new complex.
- Have one name for the entire complex.
A majority of staff liked the idea of keeping the Cornerstone and Bates names as well as adding a third name for the complex as a whole.
Giving the entire complex its own name takes on more significance than just clarification purposes for Dexter’s elementary educators. Principal Bruder explains, “Our staffs want this third name. It is an opportunity for them to come together as well as all of our Y5-2 students. We fear if there is not that third name, we will always remain two different schools. By creating this larger entity, we are coming together for all of our young Y5-2 Dexter students, and there’s a lot of care in that.”
Step Two occurred Oct. 26-31 when community input was solicited from all district families and staff via email, tweet, and the Dexter CSD app found in the App Store and on Google Play.
There were 400 responses, and after eliminating nonsensical and inappropriate suggestions, McCalla and Bruder moved onto the next step.
Step Three on Oct. 31 involved roundtable discussions on the public input to narrow down possible names for elementary staff to vote on in order to make a recommendation to the Board.
Step Four on Nov. 12 was the recommendation, made with community and staff input, of three possible names for the new construction project.
And without further ado, the suggestions are:
Complex Name: Dexter Early Education Campus
School Names: Cornerstone and Bates
Complex Name: Dexter Early Elementary Complex
School Names: Cornerstone and Bates
Complex Name: Harbor Elementary
School Names: Anchor and Beacon
Discussion among Board members suggested possibly combining some of the options to create better clarification as to the role of the new construction. Thoughts were also passed around as to leaving the “Bates” name with the building versus moving it to the new construction.
No decision as to the name was made Monday night, but the Board of Education has the final decision as to how the new construction will be named and will be in discussion in coming weeks with consideration for the recommendations submitted. Naming of the new construction will appear as an action item on a future Board agenda.
The new construction may be bricks and mortar, but the facility itself is as remarkable as the students and staff it will house.
“I don’t know of any other (school) out there in regards to the space in between”, says Principal McCalla. “The architect says that in regards to the Marketplace and the Workshop, there is really nothing like it out there in the Midwest. It’s got some incredible opportunities for Ryan and I to be working close together for our staffs and communities.”