Saturday, March 24 , 2018, 10:08 am | Fair 54º


Naming Ideas Plentiful for Santa Maria’s Newest School

Fallen warriors, former educators and field worker activists are some of the name ideas submitted for the Santa Maria-Bonita School District’s new campus.

A naming committee will present its top 10 recommendations to the board of education during a meeting set to begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Souza Student Support Center, 708 S. Miller St.

Members of the community submitted nearly 70 names when the district solicited suggestions earlier this year.

Whatever name is chosen would end in “Elementary School” to match up with other campuses, district officials said.

Fallen military members, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa and Army Spc. Kenneth Alvarez, are two of the nearly 70 names submitted for the elementary school.

Another is the name of Santa Maria police Officer Robert Ramos, who died when his service weapon accidentally fired while he was readying for work. Yet another suggestion is Mark Riddering, a former Santa Maria police officer who died from Lou Gehrig’s disease. 

Statewide field worker advocates Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta were two other suggestions.

Longtime local educators are reflected in many of the suggestions with two current board members mentioned, including Fidenzio “Bruno” Brunello and Linda Cordero, in addition to Thomas Urbanske, Ken Milo, Hortensia Montoya and Henry Grennan. 

Other community leaders also make up the bulk of the names with Leland “Butch” Simas, Clarence Minetti and Robert “Bobby Acquistapace, all with long history in the Santa Maria Elks Rodeo. Others are Harrell Fletcher (although the list has his first name misspelled), AJ Diani, Trudy Chern, Gordon Gardner Gill, Dr. Joseph Centeno and Bill Libbon.

Former mayors aren’t ignored. Both Larry Lavagnino and Abel Maldonado, who went on to be lieutenant governor, are other names submitted.

Francisco Jimenez, a Latino author who attended schools in Santa Maria as the child of farmworkers and became a university professor, is another possibility.

Longtime families are not overlooked, with suggestions of Teixeira and Acquistpace, the family that owned the land where the school sits.

One submission would recognize pro rodeo’s Luke Branquinho, who is from Los Alamos.

Other ideas center on local milestones — Central City, Valley View, Valley Stars, Valley, Strawberry Fields, Cabrillo, Mayflower, Prosper and La Graciosa.

Traditional historical figures of Benjamin Franklin and Christopher Columbus were also included in addition to naturalist John Muir and Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan.

More modern leaders also were suggested, including current governor Edmund Gerald “Jerry” Brown Jr., or U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Maria Sotomayor.

Some ideas, such as Bonita and Ontiveros, are already in school names.

The naming committee plans to hold a few more meetings to narrow the list down to the final three names for the board to consider, district spokeswoman Maggie White said. 

The board's final decision tentatively is expected at the April 15 meeting.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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