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INDEPENDENCE — Grayson Highlands School will be the name of the new facility being built in the Volney area of the county, with silver and burgundy as the school colors and the eagle as its mascot.
After sending sheets home with every student and faculty member at Bridle Creek Elementary and Mount Rogers Combined School, Grayson Schools’ Director of Personnel Chad Newman took the top three choices for the name, school colors and mascot
The top three choices for the names were West Grayson Elementary School, Grayson Highlands Elementary School and Mountainview Elementary School. The top color combinations were green/white, burgundy/green, silver/burgundy and green/silver. The top four mascots were the mustangs, eagles, highlanders and cougars.
The winning name, colors and mascot were picked after a second round of voting.
Newman said during the school board’s May 12 meeting that administrators felt it was important to include the community in the decision.
Board Member Shannon Holdaway — who represents the district the school will be in — said he liked the name Grayson Highlands, but not with elementary as part of the name.
“I would not want to be a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior going to an elementary school,” he said.
The name often used to talk about the new school had been West Grayson Elementary School, and has caused some controversy on whether the school will handle high school classes or not.
Grayson Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Thomas reiterated that while the school will house grades K-7, it will also have available core classes for high school classes.
In other words, students will be able to spend half a day at the new school and half at Grayson County High School to complete the degree requirements.
Director of Instruction and Assessment Stephen Cornett clarified the situation, “the new school will be a satellite of Grayson County High School.”
“So the diplomas will say GCHS,” said Holdaway. “The students will graduate from GCHS.”
Holdaway motioned to name the school Grayson Highands with the colors and mascot chosen by the community. Board Member Hobert Bailey seconded the motion.
Holdaway added that, while the results may have come in with elementary in the name, he had been told by several people in his district that they were not in favor of calling it an elementary school.
Newman noted that on the results of the ballots, only two family members said they were opposed to having elementary in the name.
Bailey questioned if the board could wait another month to give Newman an opportunity to present the public with a choice between including or not including the elementary part.
“We need [the name] as soon as possible,” said Thomas.
Holdaway added that the county could send out numerous ballots and might get the same results, but his constituents have indicated from day one that they did not want elementary in the name.
“As a representative from that district, that’s what they want,” he said.
With that, the board voted on the motion and passed it unanimously.
The official name was needed so the architects and contractors can finalize plans.
The school system already seems to be behind. Bids are finally being taken for the school, which must be complete by June 2009 to open in time for the 2009-10 school year. The county has already budgeted for the closing of Bridle Creek and Mount Rogers schools after next year, with the savings to be used to help pay the interest on the interim financing loans.
On the same night the board opened a new chapter by naming the future school, they closed another by honoring nine division employees retiring at the end of the year. Those retiring are Barbara Dalton from Baywood
Elementary; James Blythe, Judy Blythe and Greg Nelson from Grayson County High School; Julia Bonham and Diane Miller from Independence Elementary School and Janet Steele, Rhonda Dickenson and Pat Driscoll from Independence Middle School.
Each school’s principal spoke about the retiree and presented them with a retirement clock.
“We are here tonight to honor our retirees,” said Thomas. “We want to show our appreciation and give a thank you for everything you’ve done for the children of Grayson County. You’ve all had positive impacts on many, many children over the years. We wish all of you a long and wonderful retirement.”
In other business, the board received a request from Holdaway to change the division’s travel policy to require prior approval before any international trips.
The request stems from Newman’s trip to the Philippines to recruit teachers. Holdaway said he was in no way against the trip, but would like the board to know in the future before a trip takes place.
Thomas noted that current policy does not require prior approval, but that the ordinance was a bit dated in today’s world with the global economy.