Naming Wilson-Pacific Schools

It seems some names are out there for both the elementary school and the middle school at the Wilson-Pacific site.  And, there was a survey about it but that survey, somehow, was only sent to select people.  Now why would that be?  (I'll ask tomorrow but here's what I understand.)

Tom Redman, Communications for BEX, was contacted last week by members of the Native American community.  They wanted to know what was happening with the possibility of Wilson-Pacific being renamed for local Native American educator and leader, the late Robert Eaglestaff.

The UNEA (Urban Native Education Alliance) had submitted a proposal for this renaming of Wilson-Pacific for Eaglestaff about 18 months ago.

Mr. Redman wrote her back saying that there was a Survey Monkey done but only for the naming of the elementary building. 

He said this in reply about the naming of the middle school building:

We sent the attached letter to the neighbors of the Wilson Pacific Middle School, to the families of the Kindergarten through 3rd grade students who will be attending the new middle school in the future and to the Licton Springs Community Council.

Wait, I get that the community voice should be heard but I'm wondering if naming shouldn't be a more open process.  And I honestly do not recall any news on this subject from anyone in that region.  Also, news flash - public buildings are paid for and run by public dollars so I'm a bit confused about the narrowness of who gets to vote. 

As well, I had hoped (I know, in vain) that both schools would have the same name (The X Elementary School and the X Middle School).  The only reason I had hoped that is because of what the district has done in the past which is to name a school calling it "X school at Y site."  Meaning, you could get "Robert Eaglestaff Elementary at the Wilson-Pacific site."  And, there would be two schools with two different names.  It's a lot to keep up with but I'll ask the district if the "official" name will contain "at the Wilson-Pacific site."

You have told me in the past that you are the voice of many native Americans in the region. It was not my intention to exclude input from those you represent. Further, I should have made sure that the entire Native American community was notified of the naming process and for this, I take full responsibility and apologize. Further, I am extending the deadline to accept input and name preference from the public until next Monday, April 20 by email at or mail to: Thomas L. Redman, Seattle Public Schools, M.S. 22-336, P.O. Box 34165, Seattle, Washington, 98124-1165.

It’s important to know that all input will be reviewed and considered by Superintendent Nyland, who will then make a recommendation to the School Board for approval.

A couple of notes about the names contained in this letter:

- Dr. Sharples used to have his name on a different building - South Shore - and I've forgotten why the district dropped it but they did.  So apparently they want to reuse it elsewhere.  Okay but why is that name on both lists?

-  To note, Yuri Kochiyama is a woman and so is Corliss Preston.  Kochiyama is an interesting choice.

- Preston was not just the first woman state superintendent in Washington but oversaw a huge boom in growth of schools here as well.  She also brought about the establishment of kindergartens, hot lunch programs, transportation and junior high schools. She was also the president of the NEA. 

From the Washington State Historical Society, "She is remembered as a large, positive person with an approach to people and problems bordering on the puritanical. Among staff members she was discreetly known as The Duchess."

- Poor President Wilson - I would say name the building for him if they will be promoting his work/values.  I cannot speak for Garfield, Cleveland or Frankin but Teddy Roosevelt is a big deal at Roosevelt and is often quoted there. 

- David Douglas did visit the Pacific Northwest.  There is s school and school district in Oregon named for him. 

Below is the letter to neighbors - it is undated and I HATE when the district does this.  That they do it so often says to me they don't want to be transparent on when they send out communications.  (Bold mine.)

Dear Wilson-Pacific School Neighbor,

We will soon begin to build the new middle school and elementary school buildings on the Wilson-Pacific site, as part of the Building Excellence IV (BEX IV) capital levy, approved by Seattle voters in February 2013. The new schools are scheduled to open in fall 2017. 

We are asking you to give us input on the names for the two new school buildings. The School Board naming procedure states that the naming of new buildings should be selected based upon: (a) geographical location or local community name; or (b) distinguished individuals who have served the local community, state, or nation, whether in education or other fields.

For the new middle school building, the following names have been nominated (shown alphabetically):

  • Robert Eaglestaff, former principal, SPS American Indian Heritage School from 1989-1996.
  • Billy Frank, Jr., Pacific NW Native American environmental leader and treaty rights activist.
  • Yuri Kochiyama, Asian American and African American civil rights activist
  • Dr. Caspar Sharples, co-founder of Children’s Hospital and Seattle School Board president from 1922-1931
  • President Woodrow Wilson, after whom the existing middle school building is named.
If you wish to show support for a name listed above or to nominate a new name (include your reason), please email by April 15 to or mail to: Tom Redman, Seattle Public Schools, M.S. 22-336, P.O. Box 34165, Seattle, Washington, 98124-1165.

Your input will be reviewed and considered by Superintendent Nyland, who will then make a recommendation to the School Board for approval.

For the new elementary school building, the following four names are finalists (shown alphabetically):

  • Cascadia: name of the geographic bioregion/ecosystem that includes Washington, Oregon, B.C.
  • David Douglas, Scottish botanical explorer of the northwest: Douglas Fir tree named for him.
  • Corliss Preston, former OSPI Superintendent, 1913-1929, NEA president. 
  • Dr. Caspar Sharples, co-founder of Children’s Orthopedic Hospital and Seattle School Board President from 1922-1931.
If you wish to vote for one of these four names, please go to the following website address: and submit your vote by April 15. Or mail your vote to Tom Redman, Seattle Public Schools, M.S. 22-336, P.O. Box 34165, Seattle, Washington, 98124-1165.

Your input will be reviewed and considered by Superintendent Nyland, who will then make a recommendation to the School Board for approval.

For more information about the BEX IV construction project to build two new schools on the Wilson-Pacific site, please visit .

Thank you from Seattle Public Schools!


Anonymous said…
I am not sure the kids at Nathan Hale know much about him other than the fact that he was a spy during the Revolutionary War. I was hoping during American History that they would learn more about their school's namesake.

Eric B said…
On the Sharples name, a different school used to be named for Sharples. I believe it was Aki Kurose rather than South Shore. When SPS decided to rename Aki, they committed to name the next comprehensive middle school opened after Sharples. A few years ago, SPS was opening a new elementary and offered "naming rights" to that building to the Sharples family, who turned it down. They wanted a middle school as previously promised. I think it would be the right thing to do to name the W-P middle school after Sharples to fulfill the previous promise.

That's all from memory from a few years ago, someone else may have better information.
Anonymous said…
Perhaps the schools should be appropriately named for the nearby activities.

Northern blight
CC said…
It should absolutely be named after Robert Eaglestaff. The Indian Heritage program has totally gotten the shaft from the district, repeatedly, and naming this sacred spot after him per their request should be the least they can do.

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