Wichita’s two newest schools poised to open, await names

06/04/2012 5:00 AM

08/05/2014 9:06 PM

Call the main office of a soon-to-open new school in southeast Wichita, and you’ll hear:

“Southeast K-8, can I help you?”

That’s not the school’s official name. It doesn’t have one yet.

So for now — and until the Wichita school board votes next week to name the new K-8 school at 143rd East and Pawnee and a new elementary in south Wichita — school officials continue to refer to the buildings in general terms.

School board member Jeff Davis said a committee has chosen names for the new K-8 and the new elementary, a replacement for Lewis Open Magnet. The group is expected to present its recommendations to the board Monday.

“Names have been chosen,” Davis said. “They’re just waiting for board approval.”

Shawn Springer, principal of the new K-8, said staff members and parents keep asking him about the name. Some have started jokingly calling the school “Springer Academy,” he said.

“It’s kind of mysterious. A lot of people are kind of wondering about it and talking about it,” he said.

The school is one of five new buildings opening this fall as part of the 2008 bond issue.

Earlier this year, school board members voted to transfer Northeast Magnet High School’s name along with its program to a new school in Bel Aire. They also transferred Isely Traditional Magnet Elementary’s name to a new school at 53rd North and Woodlawn.

The last new Wichita school to be named was Ortiz Elementary at 33rd North and Arkansas, which also opens this fall. It honors Martin Ortiz, a North High graduate and leader in Latino education.

Board members voted in March to appoint a committee to name the southeast quadrant K-8 and the new elementary near 31st South and Seneca. Officials had been referring to the new elementary as “Lewis/South” because it will replace Lewis and serve as a neighborhood school.

The delay in naming the new K-8 school has prompted some other delays, said Springer, the principal. His staff can’t order letterhead, student agendas or uniforms for the school’s first cross-country team or other sports until the name is decided. They also can’t open a checking account or file paperwork for the school’s latchkey program.

“It’s not a big deal. We’re just ready to go with everything, and once we have a name we’ll slap it on there and get it done,” Springer said.

The school’s colors are hunter green and blue, a scheme similar to the Seattle Mariners baseball team. Its mascot likely won’t be chosen until after school starts in August, Springer said.

“I really want the students to be part of that process and have a say” in choosing the mascot, he said.

District policy requires elementary schools to be named for prominent local people who have died. Middle and K-8 schools can be named for local, state or national figures.

Before Ortiz Elementary, the last new Wichita school was Gordon Parks Academy at 25th and Grove, which opened in 2008. That school is named for the world-renowned photographer, filmmaker and author.

In 2003, Stucky Middle School was named for former district administrator Dean Stucky. And a new elementary at 29th North and Woodlawn was named for Val Jackson, the former co-owner of Jackson Mortuary.

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