Allen Iverson Middle School has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
The Hampton native and NBA baller was one of several suggestions made at a public hearing Monday night held to gather suggestions from the community on what to name the new middle school formed by the merger of Elkhardt and Thompson middle schools. About a dozen teachers, parents and children showed up to the Southside Community Center to log their ideas with the board.
Alexis Gresham, a 7th grader who attends Thompson, suggested naming the new school for its neighborhood: Stratford Hills Middle. Her idea was seconded by Veronica Piercy, whose son also suggested a combination of the two school’s names – “Elkson” Middle.
Nathan Johnson, a 7th and 8th grade social studies teacher at Thompson, brought suggestions compiled by 40 of his students: Allen Iverson Middle; Bon Air Middle; “Artson” Middle (another combination of the schools’ current names); and Benjamin Banneker Middle, named for a prominent African American scientist.
A second public hearing will be held on June 15 at Huguenot High School. Suggestions can be sent to the school board clerk at time during the public comment period, which ends June 30. The school board will choose the new name before the start of the 2015-16 school year.
The school board voted to consolidate Thompson and Elkhardt in May. After mold was discovered in Elkhardt, the school’s students were moved mid-year to the old Clark Springs elementary school building. Rather than foot the bill to repair the 75-year-old building, the school board chose to consolidate it with Thompson.
The decision was made with a caveat: The board acknowledged it would need to build a new middle school to ease projected overcrowding south of the James in the next several years.
More than 1,000 students from both schools will be housed at Thompson Middle building. The building can hold up to 1,200, says Tommy Kranz, RPS assistant superintendent.
Best-case scenario: The combined student bodies will spend three years in the old Thompson building while the new school is designed and built. The design process will begin in July and continue through the upcoming school year. The new facility could open as early as September 2018, if all goes according to plan, Kranz says.