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Meeting to tackle naming of new West Side school

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The naming process for the newest elementary school on Charleston's West Side is about to get under way.

Kanawha County Schools Superintendent Ron Duerring hopes this time around, things will run a little more smoothly.

"I think this time we will just make an additional effort to get that word out even more than last time," Duerring said Friday in a phone interview.

A community meeting is planned for 6 p.m. Jan. 28 at Stonewall Jackson Middle School. Attendees will have the chance to discuss the name, colors and mascot for the new school, located off Wood Road near Edgewood Country Club.

Billed as a "school of the future," the new facility will provide a curriculum laden with project-based learning and increased technology. Slated to open in 2014, it replaces both J.E. Robins and Watts elementary schools.

The county started the naming process for the other new school on the West Side, Mary C. Snow West Side Elementary School, the same way. Settling on a name became a heated, drawn-out battle between some members of the Board of Education and the community.

After suggesting the names of Mary Snow - the first black principal in Kanawha County following the integration of schools - and other community members, the names were removed from consideration. Officials cited a pending piece of state legislation prohibiting public buildings to be named after living people.

Snow died shortly thereafter, and community members fought to have her name adorn the school building. After months of back and forth, the board voted last spring to include her name at the school.

Allowing students to vote for the name was a sticking point for some board and community members.

Board President Pete Thaw and others repeatedly said the students voted to name the school West Side Elementary, and that name shouldn't change. Community members said it was inappropriate for the student vote to be the determining factor in the first place.

Duerring said students from J.E. Robins and Watts would vote on names again, once they were narrowed down. Those results would be presented to the board as one of several factors that could determine the name of the school.

"It's one piece of the equation," Duerring said.

Those interested in naming the school can also submit suggestions online. The form on the county's website asks for a name suggestion and the rationale for the name, as well as school colors and mascot. The name of the person submitting the suggestion is also required.

The form is available at

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or Follow him at


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