By the letters: What's in a high school name?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010 | 5:44 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Some came formally, typed on two pages with personal letterhead. Some came casually — an e-mailed sentence or a phone call. Some came the old-fashioned way, handwritten on stationery and sent with a postage stamp.

They all had one thing in common: names. Three rose above the rest, but only one will mark the entrance of Columbia’s new high school when it opens in 2013.

Before the naming committee narrowed down the choices for the new high school, they read through 271 submissions. Here’s a look at what the committee received:


  • Aslin’s accomplishments

Neil C. Aslin, former district superintendent and Hickman High School principal

“His vision that Columbia should be ‘the Athens of Missouri’ attracted and inspired many educators, including myself.” — Dr. Russell V. Thompson

“Dr. Aslin was the quiet power behind the excellence in our school system.” — Nancy Ginn Martin, Hickman High School class of 1957

“If you’re younger than 50, the Aslin name probably won’t light many fires. I hope this column will do that honor.” — Bill Clark, in a September 2010 column in the Columbia Daily Tribune

“I knew Dr. Aslin both as an administrator and as a golfer. What a great idea to name the new school after him. I can’t think of a better name.” — Scott Bess, Hickman class of 1958

“Dr. Aslin was a man who believed a child’s education could overcome their upbringing.” — Denise Payne-Nielsen

“He has amassed a remarkable hiring ‘tree,’ with many rocks in the public school system first being hired by Dr. Aslin.” — Jimmy James, Hickman class of 2004

  • The Battle spirit

Eliot and Muriel Battle, educators who helped integrate Columbia's public schools

“I know that Eliot Battle is still with us, thank the Lord, but I would like to suggest Battle High School.” — Martha B. Nichols, Hickman High School math teacher

What a pair those two were!” — Elizabeth Bergman, Gentry Middle School teacher

“I’d like to suggest naming the new high school after Muriel Battle. I’ve admired her and her husband for years. She was one classy lady.” — Carolyn Burks

“Dr. (Muriel) Battle was an educator extraordinaire, a mentor to countless, a community leader, and a role model to all who knew her.” — Patty Brock

(On Muriel Battle) “I never once saw her that she wasn’t smiling…” — Deb Swanegan, Gentry Middle School teacher

“I understand that there may be a policy against naming schools after living persons. If there was ever an appropriate time to waive the policy, it would be now, in this circumstance.” — Tom Oldweiler

  • Location, location, location: Lakewood

A variation on the Lake of the Woods area

“I lived out there for 27 years, and watched it grow and develop from a ‘sprout’ to a main intersection of metropolis Columbia.” — Janie Welton, Hickman class of 1968


  • Bradley Beary

Hickman student and football player

“I feel we should name it after a youth, which was mentor to many others in schools, church and community.” — Judy and Dwayne Lancaster

  • Robert Shaw

Assistant principal and biology teacher at Hickman High School

“One thing I know for sure is that my Dad loved the Columbia Public School system." — Steve Shaw

  • Conrad Stawski

Creator of the first humanities curriculum in the state of Missouri, English and humanities teacher at Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools

“I took the advice he gave on Fridays, ‘Live a little this weekend!’” — Michael Bancroft, co-worker at Rock Bridge High School

  • Molly Thomas-Bowden

Police officer shot during the line of duty in 2005

“. . . she was a true citizen of Columbia.” — Corporal J. Becker-Schutte

  • Helen D.Williams

Hickman High School teacher, nominated by a group of her students

“I was just speaking about her to some of my current friends last week. We were talking about teachers who nurtured us with wisdom as well as loving humor. She was the best!!!!” — Judy Milliron Mills

  • Providence

“The city of Columbia in its early years would not have grown if it were not for a community on the Missouri River called Providence Point.” — Kevin Begley

  • East, or Columbia East

“It would be nice to have a directional name for the school since the other two have a person’s name and a park’s name.” — Kurt Jefferson

Other suggestions, which were submitted without other information, included Ronald Reagan, Excellence and Hogwarts.

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