Fort Mill Times

Suggestions pour in for new Fort Mill school names

Pretty soon, elementary school “8” and “9,” scheduled to open in August 2014, will lose their numeric monikers and adopt permanent names.

The Fort Mill School Board will make the final naming decision, possibly as early as its June 18 meeting.

Principals for the new elementary schools were also assigned. Dr. Scott Frattarolli will lead the elementary school under construction off Doby’s Bridge Road. Frattarolli was previously principal at Sugar Creek Elementary School. Assistant Principal Michelle Gritz will take his place.

Chris Gardner will serve as principal of the elementary school under construction in Tega Cay. Gardner is currently assistant principal at Gold Hill Elementary.

Other principals were also recently hired in the district. Grey Young, currently the assistant principal at Springfield Middle, was named the principal at Pleasant Knoll Elementary, replacing Travis Howard, who moved out of the district, and Matt Wallace, currently the assistant principal at Fort Mill Middle, was named the principal at Gold Hill Middle.

Jeannette Black, of Fairfax, Va., was named principal at Fort Mill Elementary replacing Karen Helms.

Giving proper names to schools 8 and 9 was a group effort. A five-person naming committee guided the process, which included researching the history of the area surrounding both schools. A survey was sent to parents and nearly 700 responses were received with suggestions for elementary school 8, on Gold Hill Road in Tega Cay, and nearly 600 came back for elementary school 9, off Doby’s Bridge Road in the Massey subdivision.

The final contenders for elementary school 8 are: Tega Cay Elementary, Niven’s Creek Elementary, Grand Oak Elementary and Lake Point Elementary.

For elementary school 9, the finalists are: Doby’s Bridge Elementary, Catawba Shores Elementary and King’s Crossing Elementary.

The surveys showed that the majority of responses from Tega Cay favored calling the school Tega Cay Elementary School. The majority of responses from the Doby’s Bridge Road area favored calling the school Doby’s Bridge Elementary.

“We thought that was really interesting and it seems the likely choice but we needed to give them some other choices,” said committee member Lynn Sain, the school district’s Coordinator of Teacher Quality.

Respondents were also given the chance to recommend names. Common words kept popping up, said Sain, like ‘shores,’ and ‘point.’ The committee tried to incorporate those words in the final suggestions.

Other suggestions weren’t as workable.

“George Sheppard Grand Poo-Bah Elementary” didn’t make the final cut. Neither did “Just Another Elementary,” “Overcrowded Elementary,” “Too Many Yankees Elementary,” and “Enrollment Freeze Elementary.”

The district’s school naming policy prohibits naming school’s after people, but the names of several distinguished Fort Millians were mentioned in the survey as well, including TEC Dowling, former superintendent of Fort Mill Schools, who died in 2009, and TJ Dudley, a Fort Mill Marine killed in Afghanistan in 2011.

Many of the potential school names have historical origins.

King’s Crossing is a reference to the historical name of the Doby’s Bridge Road area, “King’s Bottoms.” According to historian Louise Pettus, the area was known as King’s Bottoms as early as the 1750s, and through the period of time when John Doby constructed a mill on the property, known as Ivy Mill.

Ivy Mill was briefly considered as a name for the elementary school, until it was discovered that Ivy Mill is also a street name in the Massey neighborhood.

Other names were selected to remind people of the geographic area. Niven’s Creek is the name of the area of Lake Wylie nearest the Tega Cay elementary school. Grand Oak is representative of a large oak tree that stands on the property at that site.

Catawba Shores was chosen because of the Doby’s Bridge school’s close proximity to the Catawba River.

Helping Sain select names were Debbie Clonts, a Fort Mill native and member of the Fort Mill History Museum Board of Directors; Chantay Bouler, a town employee and former school board member; Jeff Updike, a Tega Cay resident and executive director of the Nation Ford Land Trust; as well as Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Human Resources Marty McGinn.

“So we had a lot of people invested in the area and with an interest in the area, and a lot of interesting input from the community,” Sain said.