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Committee votes on name of new elementary school

Wednesday, October 29, 2008 | 9:16 p.m. CDT; updated 9:23 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, October 29, 2008

COLUMBIA — With an 8-to-4 vote, the decision was made. The naming committee will submit Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary School to the Board of Education for the name of the school that will open in 2009.

Alpha Hart Lewis was the first and only woman to hold the position of Boone County superintendent of schools. Dianne Hart Miller, Alpha Hart Lewis' great-niece, was one of 14 people who submitted Lewis' name for the school.

"The entire family is deeply proud of having the honor if she is officially selected," an elated Miller said. "She is smiling from up there."

The committee met Wednesday to select the new elementary school's name, which will be presented to and voted on by the Board of Education. Some committee members said they found it difficult to choose among the names of people who deserve the honor.

“I think about these folks and wish there were a few more elementary schools to name,” said Jack Jensen, assistant superintendent for elementary education.

Arbor Pointe and Forest Ridge were discussed as possibilities for naming the school after a place. Alpha Hart Lewis, Clara Miles, W.I. Oliver, Harry S. Truman and Valerie Garton were top choices of names honoring people. After polling the committee three times, the choices were narrowed down to Alpha Hart Lewis and Hawthorn, the Missouri state flower.

The Board of Education will vote on the naming committee’s selection at its Nov. 10 meeting.

Lewis taught at several schools over her lifetime and was raised on a farm 7 miles outside of Columbia. She attended Stephens College and received a bachelor's degree in education from MU. Lewis served seven years as Hickman High School's librarian after retiring from the position of superintendent. The final 10 years in her education career were spent at Stephens College, where she served as a counselor.

The committee, which met for the first time Oct. 22, includes parents, teachers, school administrators, board members and partners in education. At the first meeting, members discussed the selection process and reviewed the Board of Education's policy for naming a school:

  • the name should be easily identifiable with the school;
  • the names of living people should be avoided; and
  • individual parts of a school building or campus should not be named separately from the total school complex.

The school, which has been under construction since March, will be located on Arbor Pointe Parkway. Field Elementary School will become an early childhood center, and many of the faculty from Field will move to the new school, including Field principal Carol Garman. A particular Missouri theme will be assigned to the school; each grade will have its own pod named after a Missouri animal, flower or insect.


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