The Stillwater Area School Board voted Dec. 15 to change the names of Stillwater Junior High and Oak-Land Junior High to Stillwater Middle School and Oak-Land Middle School respectively, as the district transitions to a middle school model.
The district’s naming committee received nearly 400 submissions and more than 120 unique name ideas, with Stillwater Middle School and Oak-Land Middle School receiving the highest number of submissions.
When programing changes at a building, the school board policy says district staff must form a committee to review a possible name change. The district’s community engagement coordinator, Carissa Keister, said the change from a junior high school to a middle school was a significant change and required a committee to seek input from the community. Staff, administrators, students and community members served on the committee.
The school board heard from members of the naming committee Nov. 10. The committee recommended the names Stillwater Area North Middle School (for Stillwater Junior High) and Stillwater Area South Middle School (for Oak-Land Junior High).
Following the meeting, the district conducted a survey of future, current and former Oak-Land Junior High students, and 65 percent said that they liked the name, “Oak-Land.”
“I personally like Stillwater Middle School and Oak-Land Middle School,” said board member Mike Ptacek. “I think what you are going to have regardless of what name that you choose is when you talk to people inconversation and say Stillwater Area North Middle School, they are going to say, ‘Oh you mean, Stillwater or Oak-Land.’ That’s going to be the fall back.”
Board members Tom Lehmann and Paula O’Loughlin spoke and agreed.
“I had a chance to talk to some current and former students that attended Oak-Land as well as future students, a bunch of fifth-graders,” O’Loughlin said. “What I heard the students say is that there was a real strong affinity to Oak-Land, and what I heard a lot of the former students say is that there is a tremendous amount of pride in that school.”
During the naming process, one of the concerns that was raised is a past perception that Oak-Land hasn’t felt as much a part of district as Stillwater Junior High.
“Maybe in years past the schools haven’t worked as corroboratively or in tandem in support of one another — it seems to be the consensus of parents and community members that it very much is the case now,” O’Loughlin said.
The board voted unanimously to accept the names Stillwater Middle School and Oak-Land Middle School.
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