New name to come with new elementary school

Patrick J. Sullivan
Posted 11/29/16

What’s in a name?

Port Townsend School District officials are placing a lot of importance on picking a name for the grade K-5 elementary school to replace, physically and on paper, Grant Street …

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New name to come with new elementary school


What’s in a name?

Port Townsend School District officials are placing a lot of importance on picking a name for the grade K-5 elementary school to replace, physically and on paper, Grant Street Elementary School.

The new elementary is slated to open Sept. 4, 2018. Nominations are due Jan. 7. A name for the school is to be chosen next spring.

“The new elementary school will serve a new PreK-5 configuration of students, thus it will have a new identity,” wrote Superintendent John Polm. “The identity will include some of the community values that were part of the vision for this school such as a production garden, a resource center for families and a branch library of the Port Townsend City Library.”

“We are hoping for a new and inspiring name for the new school, however, any name can be submitted,” he said.

Unlike the previous two school naming decisions in the 1990s, which were student driven both in nomination and selection, anyone may suggest a name. The process apparently began last spring under then Superintendent David Engle. A School District Naming Committee is to select from three to five names from the submissions, with the school board to make the final decision in the spring of 2017.

“This is not a firm deadline; however, we believe a name should be selected about the time we break ground on the new school later this spring,” Polm told the Leader.

“We hope there is a lot of participation from students, staff and community. Building a new school is an exciting process for all of us,” noted PT's first-year superintendent.


Grant Street Elementary School (which has about 350 students, grades K-3, and is home to the OPEPO and the OCEAN programs) operates in the current building through June 2018. Thanks to a $40.9 million construction bond that drew 73 percent voter approval last year, a new school is to be built on the play field behind the existing school and when it is completed, the old school is to be removed. Lisa Condran, Grant Street's second-year principal, understands that no “disruptive” type of construction on campus is to begin before April 2017.

The new school's physical address would be Discovery Road, not Grant Street, Condran noted.

“I am absolutely excited,” Condran said. “Honestly, I love this school, and it is an amazing school that does wonderful things, but the facility needs to match the quality of teaching and education that goes on here.”

Public reaction to the name-change news "is just starting to filter out," Condran said Monday.

“Some people are surprised and want it to be named Grant Street and that is a name that can be nominated,” Condran said. "There are people asking why we need a new name. Once people hear the reasoning, that we have an entirely new school and all that goes with it, they understand that we should have a name that is more inspirational and more meaningful in our community.”


There is a Dec. 9 deadline for teachers to lead students in classroom sessions intended to produce nominations, with submissions sent to Condran at

Students in each grade K-5 class at Grant Street and Blue Heron schools are invited to choose a name to suggest, and write a paragraph in support of that selection. Students are to present their ideas in class. Each class is to conduct a secret election to select the top five school names to be shared with the district’s School Naming Committee.

Also, based on the district’s online form, any student or adult (one entry per person) may also nominate a name. General nominations are being accepted until Jan. 7 at The online submission requires a person to provide their name and email address. People must also answer if they are a student, parent or guardian, school employee, community member, grandparent or “other.”

Condran said she has also encouraged secondary students to undertake a process in language arts classes and produce a name.

"We want it very much for everyone in the community to have a say," Condran said.

As of Nov. 28, one nomination had been registered on the website: "Salish Sea" Elementary, Condran noted.

The School Naming Committee's next meeting is Dec. 14. The committee was appointed by the superintendent based on nominations. Committee members are Peter Braden, Grant Street teacher and parent of a PTHS student; Melody Skye Eisler, the city's public library director; Kassandra Swindler, Grant Street PTA; Amy Wilson, teacher at Blue Heron School and a PTHS parent; Jess Winsheimer, Grant Street secretary and parent of a Blue Heron student; Lisa Condran, Grant Street principal; Ann Healy-Raymond, director of instructor and technology for PT schools; Jason Lynch, Grant Street teacher, district Title 1 director, and Grant Street parent; Arran Stark, chef at Jefferson Healthcare and Grant Street parent; and Erica Delma, preschool provider and YMCA director.


Port Townsend School Board policy and procedure state that schools are to be named after geographic characteristics or notable individuals.

Geographic characteristics are defined as related to the community, the region, geographic industries, geology, mountains, plants, trees, water and other natural characteristics.

A notable individual is defined as a person of local or national prominence who has qualities that represent our place, people and community values. This individual should not be a living person or a person who has died within the past 10 years.


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