New Vancouver School Board elementary school needs a name

Naming committee seeks public input, favours recognizing area's aboriginal rather than colonial past

Vancouvers newest school could be named to honour a notable historic person or the history, culture and geography of the area.

The Vancouver School Board is seeking suggestions to be submitted by 4 p.m. Jan. 18.

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The new elementary school is slated to open next fall on the site of University Hill secondary on the traditional lands of the Musqueam people at the University of B.C. Its classes currently run in portables on the grounds of Queen Elizabeth elementary.

School board chair Patti Bacchus noted when the districts naming policy was discussed last February that few school names in Vancouver reflect First Nations history, whereas nearby schools with names such as Queen Mary and Lord Byng reflect Canadas colonial past.

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

Lombardi said the committee hopes to attract a wide range of names.

Members of the committee would look favourably on [a Musqueam name] and what we want is as many names submitted as possible, he said.

An eight-member naming committee will provide input on the submissions. The committee includes a representative from the Musqueam Indian Band, a parent advisory council representative, a school board administrator, a representative of UBC, a student and a school administrator.

Input will go to the boards planning and facilities committee, which will make a recommendation to the board.

Lombardi expects a decision to be made in the spring.

The most recent school opened in the city was Yaletowns Elsie Roy elementary in 2004. It was named in honour of a woman who worked for the VSB for 44 years as a teacher and a teacher instructor, and also authored childrens books. She died in 1986.

The Acadia Road school will accommodate approximately 850 students in two wings that will connect through the vaulted gymnasium that will be retained when the rest of the old U Hill secondary is demolished.

A large sundial is planned for the entrance of the school and a giant tree will brighten a large gathering space with plywood leaves painted by the schools students.

School board project manager Kelly Isford-Saxon says classes of one grade will be clustered around a central learning area with the spaces connected or separated by garage doors. Main floor spaces will have direct access to the outdoors with seating areas where students can learn outside. Second floor classrooms will include decks.

The intermediate wing includes a greenhouse and a large deck on the corner for green demonstration projects.

The new school will also include an outdoor amphitheatre and an all-weather playing field. The library will include a raised story corner with soft seating and a story cave where teachers can read to younger classes. For more information and to submit an idea, see

Twitter: @Cheryl_Rossi

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