|Principal Melissa Hamilton and elementary students Harley Barker, Louie Peterson, Brittany Hurtado and Kearston Hamblin display a banner proclaiming the name of the new school being built in Sunnyside.|
The school presently under construction at the site of the old East Carbon High will be named Bruin Point Elementary when it opens next year.The decision was made by the Carbon County Board of Education at the panel's regular meeting on Dec. 13.
After Melissa Hamilton was named principal of Petersen last spring, she began to look at alternatives for a name.
During the summer, she asked the community to submit nominations. In September, the elementary students and patrons voted to name the school Bruin Point.
"We are very excited about this name," said Hamilton. "It helps us move forward as we move toward readying the new building for next fall."
Hamilton mentioned that the community had responded well to her request for nominations and ideas. The school's mascot will be a bear.
"Last summer, I was able to visit the home of every student who would be attending our school," stated the principal in a telephone interview. "We asked people then for ideas and we also did that same thing on back to school night. Some of the names were very creative."
According to Hamilton, examples of the nominations included Viking Elementary - in memory of the mascot of the old East Carbon High, Eagles Landing, Bookcliff Elementary and Bruin Point. Some community members also suggested that the name of the school remain Petersen.
After the nominations were gathered, Hamilton said the school sent home forms for voting on the name by parents and students. Voting was conducted at parent-teacher conferences as well.
The present school in Sunnyside was named for Carl Werner "Stubby" Petersen when the school was built in 1954. Petersen was originally from Michigan, played football for East High and was a halfback at Utah State University. He came to Carbon County to be a coach at Carbon High, where he had a good reputation for working with the students.
Petersen was involved in many civic organizations. He was a member of the chamber of commerce and the county school board and served as Utah State University Trustee for a time. He died in 1982.
But according to superintendent David Armstrong, the practice of naming schools after people, living or dead, was ended a number of years ago by the district.
"It was before my time, but that was the decision when they built such schools as Creekview and Castle Heights," said Armstrong on Wednesday. "The time frame for people's names is limited. For instance, when a lot of people see the name Mont Harmon, they think we have misspelled the name of the school and it should be Mount Harmon. But that school was named after a former superintendent who worked in the district during the 1930s. People have forgotten that."
Naming schools after people can get districts into political trouble as well.
In the last 20 years, Clark County District in southern Nevada was building so many schools per year to keep up with population growth that officials began naming buildings after people who are alive.
Two of the individuals later became entangled in problems with the law, which put the Clark County District in a difficult position regarding the names of the schools.
"What we wanted to do with this naming was to pull the community together, to give them a chance to have input into their new school," concluded Hamilton.