New middle school given familiar name

Benna Sayyed

A school in Clovis will once again carry the name of W.D. Gattis.

The Clovis Municipal Schools board voted overwhelmingly to name the city’s new middle school after the notable educator Tuesday at its regular school meeting.

In 2007, Gattis was converted into the Clovis Freshman Academy when the district converted to a system of two middle schools (sixth through eighth grades) and a freshman academy.

The school mascot will be the Cubs, which is also a carryover from the original Gattis school.

Terry Myers, superintendent for Clovis Municipal Schools, said public input was also in favor of Gattis.

“I can safely say that Gattis probably influenced thousands and thousands of young lives as principal at La Casita,” said board member Charles Guthals, as he introduced the motion for the school name.

Other school names considered were Llano Estacado, Liberty, Bataan, Robert H. McDougal, Clovis and Jim McDaniel Middle School.

Clovis board Vice President Max Best, the only board member to oppose the motion, said he respected the decision to name the school after a person but favored generic naming.

“I’m not denying what W.D. Gattis did, but I feel that without objective standards you’re walking on dangerous ground terms of naming school buildings after people either living or dead. … I’m just opposed to naming school buildings after people,” said Best.

Board President Terry Martin said he sympathized with Best in that the board might consider the possibility of developing policies for future naming of schools.

“We’re in construction mode. I know we will need another elementary school and possibly another high school some day. So we might want to explore a policy on how we would name them as a board,” said Martin.

Best said that Martin’s idea might be a feasible option.

“I think you have to make exceptions. Obviously if somebody came and donated $20 million to build new school you could award them naming rights. Money talks. Or if somebody wanted to buy us a $200,000 scoreboard you have to allow them sponsorship and naming rights,” said Best.

Other topics discussed Tuesday were an update on school construction, the city’s new middle school specifics and FFA student achievement.

According to Deputy Superintendent of Operations Joel Shirley, the following stages of planning and building are in progress:

• The kickoff design meeting for James Bickley Elementary is Oct. 15 to receive input on its future appearance.

• Construction at La Casita is on schedule; projected completion in February 2012. Project’s goal is to make new addition indistinguishable from the existing structure.

• Construction at Marshall Middle School is 70 percent complete. Shirley mentioned project encountered numerous common major renovation problems but is still scheduled to be complete January 2012.

• Groundbreaking at Arts Academy at Bella Vista is Oct. 18. Scope of work will be almost identical to that of La Casita.

• Lockwood Elementary School project is 50 percent through its construction documents phase.

• Groundbreaking of new middle school will begin Oct. 18.

• Clovis Future Farmers of America was granted rights to attend the FFA national convention. A team of two male students and three female students will attend the conference.