The students at The Heights and Gearhart elementary schools got a taste of a critical democratic process during Election Day on Nov. 5 as they cast their ballots to determine the name, colors, and mascot for the new combined elementary school.
One by one, the students stuck their ballots in voter boxes at each school, which were presided over by Gearhart Mayor Matt Brown and Seaside Mayor Jay Barber. After performing the task, they received an “I Voted” sticker.
Gearhart Librarian Laura Stewart, who is on the Bringing Our Elementary Schools Together Committee, said they handed out hundreds of surveys during registration, at the Seaside Farmers Market, at football games, online, and through other methods. Parents, students, and community members returned about 200 surveys, giving their suggestions on the new name, mascot, and colors. They were also asked “for the inspiration behind their choice,” or why they believed it made sense, Stewart said.
The committee narrowed it down to three choices for each category, which were included on the official voting ballot.
For school names, the options are Trillium Elementary, Coho Creek Elementary, and Pacific Ridge Elementary. For school mascot, the choices are the Osprey, Sea Sars, or Puffins. The choices for school colors are red, white, and blue; turquoise, black, and silver; and blue, green, and silver.
Since the top choices were announced to the students, they have in turn been making posters and giving presentations to campaign for their preferences and explain why they like them. The committee decided to hold the vote on the real Election Day to use this experience as an opportunity for students to learn about the civic process and how to respectfully advocate for their opinion, Stewart said. They also want the students to feel a sense of ownership of the new elementary school.
“We’re all affected by everything happening with the change,” Stewart said.
The mascot, name, and school colors that receive the most votes will be presented to the Seaside School District board of directors at their meeting Nov. 19.
Before that time, the results are being kept a secret. After the board gives their approval, the winners will be announced to the elementary school students during a mixed assembly Nov. 20.