New names narrowed for Oak-Land, SJHS

With nearly 400 submissions and more than 120 unique name ideas, the Stillwater Area School District’s two junior high schools are close to receiving new names for the transition to middle schools next year.

The school board heard from members of the naming committee Nov. 10, as it considers what to call Stillwater and Oak-Land junior high schools in the future. Floating to the top of the list of potential names are Stillwater Area North Middle School (for Stillwater Junior High) and Stillwater Area South Middle School (for Oak-Land Junior High).

The district’s community engagement coordinator, Carissa Keister told the board she has received a lot of feedback from the community about the announced name change.

“I’ve had a lot of questions related to name changes and the expenses related to name change, but it really comes back to board policy,” Keister said.

When programing changes at a building, the school board policy says the district’s staff must form a committee to review a possible name change. Keister said the change from a junior high school to a middle school was a significant change and required a committee to seek out input from the community. Staff, administration, students and community members served on the committee.

“What surprised me with much of the discussion was the passion and the amount of feeling that came up with the names,”  Keister said. “Much of the conversation centered around Oak-Land’s history as the ‘other school’ and how the school has not always been seen as part of the Stillwater Area School District.”

The top names recommended by the committee were “Stillwater Area North Middle School” and “Stillwater Area South Middle School.” Two students who served on the committee shared the reasons that they supported the name change.

“Having names that are similar would unite us all as Stillwater Ponies,” said Stillwater Junior seventh-grader Veda Roeske.

Roeske plays on a girls hockey team with students from both schools, and they all wanted to be united in the names of their schools, she said.

“Oak-Land has never had much meaning to me personally,” said Oak-Land ninth-grader Max Vogel.  “They have their location geographically, but Stillwater unites them together.”

Vogel also likes that the name “Stillwater Area” unites the 18 cities and townships in the district.

“It shows that we are one collective of many communities,” Vogel said.

The second option the committee put forward was “St. Croix North” and “St. Croix South.” While they recognized that the most popular names submitted was Stillwater Middle School and Oak-Land Middle School, the committee did not believe they were the best choices.

Some board members had concerns about the names.

“I do struggle with the ‘North’ and ‘South,’” board member Kathy Buchholz said. “To me, that could be divisive.”

Board chair George Hoeppner asked if the middle school athletic teams would have to change uniform colors or names. Keister told the board that principals have been incorporating more red, black and white into the color scheme in recent years and have been phasing out the green or blue of the individual middle schools.

The board will be looking for more feedback from the community and will vote on the name change during the first meeting in December.

Contact Alicia Lebens at [email protected]