Jamestown S’Klallam tribal council member Kurt Grinnell was one of two people who spoke in favor of naming the new school after S’Klallam chief Chetzemoka at a special Port Townsend School Board meeting Monday. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Jamestown S’Klallam tribal council member Kurt Grinnell was one of two people who spoke in favor of naming the new school after S’Klallam chief Chetzemoka at a special Port Townsend School Board meeting Monday. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend board gathers input for new school name

PORT TOWNSEND — Chetzemoka Elementary is seeing some support as the name of Port Townsend’s planned new school.

The Port Townsend School Board held a special meeting Monday to gather public input on the name for the new school to replace Grant Street Elementary that is scheduled to open for the 2018-2019 school year.

The top five names were selected by a committee made up of community members and educators in January, and now the decision is up to the school board.

The top five names are Chetzemoka Elementary, after the 19th century S’Klallam Tribe chief; Kah Tai Elementary; Salish Coast Elementary; Salish Sea Elementary; or Salish Trails Elementary.

Names were submitted by community members, students and teachers from October through January, and the naming committee then narrowed down the 131 names submitted to a more manageable five to present to the school board.

Names were graded based on a variety of criteria, including the requirement that the name be based on a local geographic feature or person of note, that it would be easy for students to say and spell and that it had some sort of meaning for the students and the community.

“The criteria in the rubric really let us get away from personal favorites and really think about what the criteria means,” said Ann Raymond, one of the naming committee members.

The committee did add the name Salish Coast Elementary due to the high volume of names about the Salish Sea and surrounding area.

“We really felt it was in the spirit of a lot of the names submitted,” said Jason Lynch, another member of the naming committee. “We felt, when we tried this rubric against those names, they were memorable to our community.”

The committee also made sure the five final names would be unique to the new school.

“We did a lot of Google searches,” said Grant Street Elementary School Principal Lisa Condran, who was also on the naming committee. “We did not find a lot of names that were similar. Names that were local, like Kah Tai and Chetzemoka, were very rare.”

While the meeting was meant to gather public input, only two people came to speak on the new name.

Pam Stinson, a member of the Jefferson County historical and genealogical societies, spoke in favor of naming the school after S’Klallam Chief Chetzemoka, as did Kurt Grinnell, a S’Klallam tribal council member and great-grandson of Chetzemoka.

“I think Chetzemoka would be proud to have his name on this school to bring our pasts and our futures together,” Grinnell said.

The school board will make its decision on the name at its next meeting March 13 at 6 p.m. at the Gael Stuart Building, 1610 Blaine St. However, the board did say that more public input on the name can be emailed to them. All email addresses for the board members are available at www.ptschools.org/board___supt.

The new school is expected to open just in time for the 2018-2019 school year, and at 68,000 square feet, it will be roughly twice the size of Grant Street Elementary, which was built in 1956.

The total cost of the new school is estimated to be $40,085,000 and will be paid for primarily by a $40.9 million bond voters approved in February 2016.

With the size of the new school, the elementary will expand to kindergarten through fifth grades, allowing Blue Heron Middle School to adopt a traditional model of students in grades 6-8.

While the school will get a new name, it will keep its eagle mascot.

________

Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at cmcfarland@peninsuladailynews.com.

Port Townsend School Board chair Nathanael O’Hara asks members of the school naming committee to explain their process of choosing the top five names for the new Grant Street Elementary School during a special public meeting Monday. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Townsend School Board chair Nathanael O’Hara asks members of the school naming committee to explain their process of choosing the top five names for the new Grant Street Elementary School during a special public meeting Monday. (Cydney McFarland/Peninsula Daily News)

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