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New schools named for geologic features

Tamie Meck

Gone are the days of naming schools after individuals.

The Garfield Re-2 school board agreed Tuesday to name two of its soon-to-be-constructed schools for geological features rather than for well-known local educators.

Highland Elementary School in Rifle and Coal Ridge High School in Peach Valley will soon be part of the growing school district.

“It’s a practice that the board needed to evaluate,” said Gary Pack, district superintendent. “We elected to stay away from naming schools after individuals.”

Two separate naming committees, one for the high school and one for the elementary school, worked on coming up with names. Questionnaires were sent to the families of students and a large number of replies were received and considered in making final selections, said Pack.

Construction began Tuesday on the new Highland Elementary School in Rifle. The 62,000-square-foot, 500-student facility is scheduled to open August 2003 in the Highlands East neighborhood.

“It’s a nice sized facility,” said Pack. It will include the latest in technology and will be air-conditioned.

There was a lot of sentiment for naming the school after Mary Scoggins, said Pack.

Scoggins was a prominent elementary school educator who taught for many years at Esma Lewis Elementary School in Rifle. The last two years of her career were spent teaching at Rifle Middle School. She died of cancer in 2000.

In response, the board approved naming the new elementary school’s library the Mary Scoggins Library.

“She was highly respected by all of her colleagues,” said fellow teacher, Sandy Steele. “She had high expectation of her students.” Her students responded with hard work and dedication.

Since many other educators and community members deserve recognition as well, said Pack, the board will strive to name rooms, wings and other school features after them.

Coal Ridge High School will be constructed in the Peach Valley area between New Castle and Silt. Coal Ridge was one of the original names given to the Grand Hogbacks.

In researching the name, committee members referred to 19th century maps to verify the name of Coal Ridge and to learn the name’s historical significance. On some maps, the ridge was listed as both Coal Ridge and the Hogbacks, said Pack.

A lot of sentiment was also expressed for naming the school Burning Mountain, Peach Valley or River Valley high school, said Pack. Since Coal Ridge provides a geological connection to Silt and New Castle, and since the school will also connect the communities, the board selected Coal Ridge.

Students from Riverside Elementary School, who will eventually attend Coal Ridge, will name a mascot at a later date, said Pack.

One other big decision came out of the meeting: cobalt blue, black and silver were chosen as the school colors for Coal Ridge High School.

Phase I construction of the school will begin in the summer of 2003, with water and sewer work to begin in February. Phase I will include a 110,000-square-foot, 500-student facility, as well as ball fields, parking lots and other infrastructure.

Phase II, to begin at an undetermined date, will add an additional 30,000 to 40,000 square feet to the facility and allow for 1,000 students.

Construction of Highland Elementary and Coal Ridge High schools is funded by a $39 million bond initiative passed by school district voters in November 2001.


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