Name game leaves out students


Her son's school consists of portables and the students skip through puddles to get to the bathroom, fountains and the library. "If you ask my son where he goes to school, he'll answer with Acadia Road School," Melanie Antweiler wrote me. "He doesn't say, 'I don't know'. He likes the name of his school, and he identifies with it."

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So Antweiler asked whether students would get more of a say when she attended the inaugural naming committee for the school. "The answer was no... So the children and the parents. seem to have no extra sway in the matter," said Antweiler, the sole parent representative on the committee, in a phone interview Monday morning.

"The policy doesn't account for this situation where the kids are already there," she added.

Jakob Antweiler attends Grade 1 at Acadia Road school, which is located in portables on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth elementary. Its permanent location is slated to open on the grounds of the current University Hill secondary in September 2014.

In the meantime, the school board is accepting submissions for a name for the elementary school until 4 p.m., Jan. 18.

Antweiler said the student representative on the naming committee polled pupils at Acadia Road and most of them voted to keep that name. "And at our well-attended [parent advisory council] meeting earlier this week, not one parent wanted to change the name," she wrote in late November.

Some favoured renaming the school Acadia Park, as she says the neighbourhood is known.

Vancouver School Board policy stipulates the selected name should honour historical and cultural heritage, recognize a deceased outstanding individual or be significant to the geography of the area, and that names used in another school district, particularly a neighbouring one, should be avoided.

School board chair Patti Bacchus noted when the district's naming policy was discussed last February that few school names in Vancouver reflect First Nations history.

School board trustee Mike Lombardi, liaison to University Hill and the board's naming committee, says the district updated its naming policy earlier this year to include First Nations cultural heritage.

The board's "Name that School!" webpage notes the permanent elementary school will sit on the traditional land of the Musqueam and two of the eight members of the naming committee represent the Musqueam Indian Band.

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