BEND, OR -- The Bend-La Pine School Board is expected to vote Tuesday night on the name of the new elementary school being built at Cooley and O.B. Riley Road. Principal Kevin Gehrig says the public submitted 375 ideas. He and the naming committee then considered which to recommend to the board, "Kind of vetting them through the historical society and doing research on each of them, and ultimately, while following the board policy and parameters, getting down to three names: One being North Star Elementary; another one, Ruth Reid Elementary and then Florence Drake Elementary."
Ruth Reid was Bend’s first teacher and principal, "She ultimately brought K-through-12 education to Bend," Gehrig tells KBND News, "It was initially K-through-8; and our understanding is we were sending students over the hill to go to high school, and she really made that K-12 continuum in Bend."
Florence Drake persuaded her husband Alexander Drake to settle along the Deschutes River, shaping the city’s development. Drake is considered the founding father of Bend. Drake Park sits on the site of the couple's original homestead.
Gehrig says North Star Elementary is the committee’s first choice, "North Star just is that idea of a source for stability. A lot of people talk about a person’s ‘true north,’ and that internal compass being that guiding successful life path. And also, just that idea that we want kids to be curious learners, seek and explore and reach for the stars." The school is also the northern-most in the district.
Regardless of which one the board chooses, Gehrig says he's excited for his school to finally have a name. He admits he's tired of calling it “Bend’s Yet-To-Be-Named-Elementary School.” It's slated to open in the fall.
UPDATE (01/09/19): Due to the absence of some School Board members, the group chose not to vote on the name, Tuesday night. They are expected to take up the issue again it the next meeting, scheduled for February 12.