CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Kanawha County school system recently printed posters, ran advertisements in local media and posted information on its website about a community meeting to discuss the name of the new elementary school being built on Charleston's West Side.
About 15 people attended Thursday night's meeting at Stonewall Jackson Middle School, not counting a similar number of school administrators and media members.
"I wish there would have been more," said Jane Roberts, assistant superintendent for elementary education.
Roberts, who ran the meeting, said the option to submit suggestions on the website might have kept people at home. Since the online drop box opened about two weeks ago, close to 75 people have submitted suggestions, Roberts said. While some are a bit "silly," she said others are reasonable.
One in particular is the frontrunner.
"I'll tell you, Edgewood is probably leading the way, as far as suggestions go," Robert said.
The new school is located a little less than a mile off of Edgewood Drive. Roberts said the history and tradition of the area is probably why the name is most popular.
Billed as the school of the future, the new elementary school is designed for a project-based curriculum laden with technology. J.E. Robins and Watts elementary schools will close once the new school is built. Officials expect it to open by fall of 2014.
Roberts said she hadn't heard anything controversial mentioned regarding the Edgewood Elementary suggestion.
"Not yet," she added.
Debate raged back and forth concerning the naming of the other new West Side elementary school. Following a student vote and discussions about whether schools could be named after people who are still alive, the board settled on the name West Side Elementary. After outcry from community members and several heated public meetings, the board eventually added the name "Mary C. Snow" -- the first black principal of a desegregated school in Kanawha County -- to the building.
Of the three names suggested during Thursday's meeting, three different people voiced support for Edgewood Elementary. Ryan Hensley, an 11-year-old fifth grader at J.E. Robins, has his fingers crossed that will be the choice.
"It's near Edgewood, it's by the street," Ryan said.
The cardinal should be the mascot because it's the state bird. A Mountaineer's fan, he favors blue and gold for the school's colors.
His mother Jessica attended the meeting with Ryan and his 15-year-old sister Megin in order to support her son. His uncle is working on the project, but Ryan's interest is deeper, his mom said.
"I'm just going with him because he's so excited about it. He said 'I want to be part of history and naming the school'," Jessica said.
Chuck Frostick, an employee of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and father of a student who attended Watts, suggested the school be named after Judge James H. Brown.
In a prepared statement, he said Brown helped write the state constitution, was one of the first members of the state Supreme Court and two of his descendants taught at Watts.
Frostick is Brown's great, great grandson, but said he would favor the name even if they weren't related.
"Given his historical importance to the state of West Virginia, I believe his name should be given great consideration," Frostick told the crowd.
Another student suggested the name "Brooklyn Woods." She said the new school is in the woods, but did not provide further justification or her name.
Before taking suggestions, the school's principal, Henry Nearman, gave a brief overview of the new school. Nearman, currently principal at J.E. Robins, talked about how the building's design and curriculum should induce student improvement.
The rooms cater to small group work, and the curriculum is focused on projects. Students set their own goals, in accordance with teachers, and have enhanced technological equipment to achieve those goals, he said.
That includes a device, similar to an iPad or tablet, for students in second through fifth grade. Students can message teachers or video chat with other students, as well as access lesson plans in accordance with the school's 24-7 learning model, Nearman said.
He opted to stay out of the discussion of the name.
"I'm allowing the community, parents, students and staff to voice their opinion," he said after the meeting.
The county school board gets the final say, but Roberts said the board would receive all suggestions. Following the backlash of the Mary C. Snow naming process, board members implemented a new policy for naming schools in October.
None of the five board members attended Thursday's meeting, but four said earlier in the day by phone they wanted the community to decide. Becky Jordon was the only board member to suggest a name -- she favors Edgewood Elementary -- but she emphasized that it's up to the community. Board member Robin Rector did not return a message.
Suggestions can be submitted until Feb. 15. The board will decide the school's name, colors and mascot in March.