An advisory committee narrowed potential names for Paul H. Cale Elementary from more than 250 individual suggestions to six finalists during a meeting Thursday night.
The finalists — Mountain View, Avon, Southside, Avon Ridge, Biscuit Run and Mill Creek — reflect the school’s geographic location. Community members can weigh in on the finalists during a meeting next month at Cale, and the committee will vote on a final recommendation in January, according to a timeline announced last month.
The Albemarle County School Board has the final say on the new name.
The 11-person committee made up parents, community members and teachers received more than 550 submissions through an online survey and suggestion box at the school, chairman Dennis Rooker said. More than 300 suggestions came from students and staff at Cale.
The finalists were among the most-suggested names.
School Board policy stipulates that schools could be named after a theme, value, place or individual. However, committee members decided at the beginning of the renaming process that they would not name the school after an individual.
The School Board decided Oct. 10 to rename Cale following a months-long review of the former superintendent’s tenure and legacy. Cale oversaw the school division from 1947 to 1969.
Jeannie Ballard, a fourth-grade teacher at Cale, was the only person to speak at the meeting before the committee met privately to narrow the list of potential names.
Ballard said she worked with her fourth-graders to come up with some ideas by looking at the geography of the school. In fourth grade, students learn about the physical geography of Virginia.
“Two of our favorites in the classroom were Avon Ridge, because Avon Street is where we are,” she said. “We’re located on Avon Street and ridge is the landform. So we can stand on our ridge and look to the east, look to the west, and we have the beautiful mountain views. But that unites us.”
Biscuit Run was the other favorite of the class, she said. Biscuit Run, a tributary of Moores Creek, runs throughout the neighborhoods of Cale’s students.
“So it’s something that separates us, but yet unites us,” Ballard said. “It’s the one thing in common for all of us.”
Ballard said some of her students last year didn’t understand why people wanted to change the school’s name, so she wanted to make it a more positive experience this year.
“I knew something they could sink their teeth into would be what [the new name] could be,” she said.
Thinking about potential names was a teachable moment for Ballard. They talked about how the school is located in the Piedmont and within the Rivanna watershed.
The discussion also turned into a civics lesson, she said, as students wanted to know who made the decision to change the name.
Other suggestions included geographic markers around the area, prominent historical figures and character traits. Some students put in sillier options such as “Butt Elementary” and other community members proposed acronyms for Cale such as “Caring Albemarle Learning Environment.”
Other students wanted the new name to reflect the school’s cultural diversity and its Spanish language program.
“I think it should be named La Voz because we want to recognize the Spanish immersion program,” a student wrote a comment included with the survey results. “Also because la voz is Spanish for voice and you’re letting us have a voice by letting us pick the name.”
Fifty-eight individuals, mostly students, submitted Kale Elementary. Ten people wanted the current name to stay.
“I thought that was interesting because our kids really like our name,” Ballard said of the vegetable suggestion. “We are Cale and will always be Cale even though we have a new name, at least for the kids that are here now. The future will be different, but for the past students that have walked through our doors since 1990, it will always be Cale.”