The deafening cheers of more than 700 elementary-aged students permeated the gymnasium at The Heights Elementary School on Wednesday, Nov. 20, during a joint assembly with Gearhart Elementary School at which the school’s new name, mascot and colors were revealed.
Effective July 1, the Seaside School District’s elementary school at the new campus will be called Pacific Ridge Elementary School, while Broadway Middle School is being renamed Seaside Middle School to reflect the relocation.
The new elementary school’s colors, as approved by the Seaside School District’s board of directors during their Nov. 19 meeting, will be turquoise, black and silver, while the middle school will transition to white, black, and Columbia blue.
During the joint assembly, led by Seaside School Board member Brian Taylor and fifth-grade teacher Brett Deur, it was also revealed that the new mascot of Pacific Ridge Elementary School will be the puffin, an iconic bird species of the Oregon north coast. The middle school will remain the sharks.
All the decisions were voted on by the students themselves during Election Day on Nov. 5, which “turned out amazing,” said Jeremy Catt, assistant principal of the elementary schools.
It was “a really special day for the kids,” he said. “They were so mature and they just loved the opportunity.”
The renaming committees for the schools received a couple hundred ideas that were submitted by students, parents, and community members. They narrowed down the options to three for each category, which were then included on the ballot for students.
Natalie Osburn, principal of the middle school, said Seaside Middle School was “overwhelmingly” favored by the middle school students, while keeping the name Broadway Middle School was the second top choice. With the change from orange to Columbia blue, the school colors will now more “closely align” with Seaside High School’s, she said.
Board president Mark Truax thanked the staff and the renaming committees — which included Taylor and board member Shannon Swedenborg — for turning the process into “a necessary event” that allowed the students’ voices to be heard.
Superintendent Sheila Roley added it was also “an incredible lesson in civics” and in presenting ideas and having reasoned debate.
“It was really done elegantly,” she said.
Assistant Superintendent Susan Penrod agreed, recalling an encounter she had with a student on voting day while handing out “I voted” stickers.
“I had a second-grader say to me, ‘I can’t tell you what I voted on because it’s my personal choice and I keep it to myself,’” she said.