BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine School District officials have narrowed down options for naming the newest elementary school, selecting three finalists. Superintendent Ron Wilkinson tells KBND News he expects the school board will make a final decision within the next 2 weeks. "It’s a board decision, in terms of naming." Wilkinson says, "We have this committee that included a couple of parents in the area, and then the leadership team that’s been working on the planning for the school. They worked through the process and received over 300 nominations from the community for names, and these three were among those that were received."
The choices include “Silver Rail Elementary” and “Homestead Elementary.” Wilkinson explains, "The Silver Rail is in relation to the Railroad, which has been so critical in our history of Bend, particularly in the lumber industry in this community. And, the railroad tracks are not far from the school. The Homestead is, it’s the Old Farm Neighborhood, where the school is going to be located, and it was actually a homestead, several homesteads in that area."
However, the third finalist, "Amelia Earhart Elementary," is drawing some controversy. The Des Chutes Historical Museum
has expressed concern Earhart's name was selected because of an urban legend surrounding reports she lived here at some point. Wilkinson says the school board is aware that Earhart never actually lived in Bend, however she is still an important historical figure. "I think they selected her more for her contributions from pushing new horizons, particularly for women, I think that’s the reason for selecting her. The fact that she has this attachment or connection to Bend - where she ultimately married a former Bend mayor and publisher and editor of The Bulletin, George Putnam – it’s sort of a connection with Bend."
Before making a final decision, the School Board will hear public comment on the name choices at their March 10th meeting. Wilkinson says it's possible the board will make a final decision at that time. The new elementary school is scheduled to open in September.