GRAND TERRACE - What's in a name?
A lot, apparently, for many Grand Terrace residents.
The Colton Joint Unified School District asked the public to come up with names for the new high school in Grand Terrace.
District officials conducted a two-week campaign in early February to solicit names for the campus, which is expected to break ground in April and open in 2011.
The top choice was Grand Terrace High School, which got nearly twice as many nominations as the No. 2 preference, Robert E. DeGroff High School. Robert DeGroff, who died in 2006, was a teacher and academic decathlon coach at Colton High School.
Blue Mountain High School came in third. Grand Terrace is known as the Blue Mountain City because of the Blue Lupine flower that grows in the spring on Blue Mountain, a hill that flanks the city on the east.
With two of the top three nominations related to Grand Terrace, residents want the board to respect their preference.
But some are concerned that the board may have made up its mind.
The board's seven members gave their own nominations at the Feb. 19 meeting, a day after the deadline for the public's submissions. Six members wanted the school to be named after former board member Ray Abril, Jr. Board member Patt Haro's choice was Grand Terrace High School.
The board is expected to formally vote on a name at the March 12 meeting.
Abril, a longtime Colton resident who served on the school board nearly 20 years, got the fourth highest number of nominations in the public survey.
The district received 329 e-mails and 36 phone calls submitting nominations. Grand Terrace High School had 124 votes, followed by DeGroff with 64, Blue Mountain with 57 and Abril with 13.
"Not to slight Mr. Abril or Mr. DeGroff or anybody, but when it's time to name a school, you name it after the community it represents," said Grand Terrace resident Ed Gregor, a retired Bloomington High School teacher.
Olivia Ortega, whose 8-year-old son attends Grand Terrace Elementary School, said it is wrong to name a Grand Terrace school after a Colton resident.
"I don't want to sound like a snob, but we're different," Ortega said. "I'm sorry. This is not Colton. This is Grand Terrace."
Board member Kent Taylor, who lives in Grand Terrace, said he said he will listen to all nominations before making a final decision.
"I can definitely tell you that Ray Abril is someone that has demonstrated outstanding leadership for our district," Taylor said. "He is a mentor of mine. It's a sense of honoring our elders and those that have paved the way."