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BOE seeks input on school names
Residents allowed to submit suggestions until Dec. 3

COVINGTON - The Newton County Board of Education has to name two schools that will open over the next couple of years and is seeking the community's help.

The board will accept suggestions until Dec. 3 on names for the two new schools being built on Salem Road.

One school is an elementary school that is already being constructed and is scheduled to open in August 2008; the other is a middle school for which the board approved a construction bid in October and is set to open August 2009.

Dr. Steve Whatley, Newton County School System superintendent, said naming a school is a serious matter.

"The names we select for the two new schools will be part of the permanent history of our school system and our county," he said in a statement released by the school system. "The school board feels the community should have a role in selecting those names."

This is not the first time the board has sought public input.

"In the past, school board members have suggested and voted on names, and for our two most recent schools, Rocky Plains Elementary and Alcovy High, we asked for community input," said Sherri Viniard, director of public relations for NCSS, in an e-mail.

She said the board decided to seek suggestions from residents again because they want to include parents and others in making important decisions, like naming new schools.

"Parent involvement and community support are key ingredients to a successful school system," she said. "We want parents to be involved not only in the education of their own children but also the school system as a whole."

School board policy gives the responsibility of naming all new facilities in the district to the local school board, but it is able to receive community and staff input prior to the final decision.

In the past, the Newton County board named schools after geographical locations, areas of the county and important people in the community.

Ficquett Elementary School is named after E.L. Ficquett, former school superintendent, while Indian Creek Middle School is named for Dried Indian Creek, which runs through the county, and Veterans Memorial Middle School is named for local veterans.

"We (named Veterans) as a tribute to all of the veterans in Newton County," said state Sen. John Douglas (R-Social Circle), who was serving on the board at the time. "We even went so far as to put a POW flag on the flagpole."

The school system welcomes suggestions from students, parents, employees and other residents of Newton County. Those who would like to send a recommendation should send the suggested school name and rationale behind the name in writing to Dr. R. Steven Whatley, Superintendent of Newton County Schools, P.O. Box 1469, Covington, GA 30014 or by e-mail to whatley.steve@newton.k12.ga.us.

The person's name and contact information is not required to accompany the suggestions, but Viniard said including that information could be helpful if the board has any questions about the suggestion.

Whatley will collect suggestions until the end of the business day Dec. 3, and then he will distribute copies of them to each board member at the board's meeting Dec. 11.

"The board will review the names suggested and narrow the list to six," Viniard said.

They will then discuss the choices and vote on the names of both schools at its Jan. 15 meeting.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.