Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Have Names of People Less, Study Finds; They're Often Named for Plants, Animals and Places

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Schools Have Names of People Less, Study Finds; They're Often Named for Plants, Animals and Places

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRISTINA ABEL

While a group of Ponte Vedra Beach residents is moving to get the new northeast high school named for a late community leader, national trends show schools are more likely to be named for plants, animals and places.

The group, the Edward B. LeMaster Memorial Committee, wants the Ponte Vedra Beach high school, which is being constructed southwest of Ponte Vedra Beach and is set to open in August 2008, named for its "chief benefactor," LeMaster, who died in 2005.

LeMaster helped develop the Ponte Vedra-Palm Valley Elementary School and helped reroute Ponte Vedra Boulevard to protect area beaches and habitats and make room for homes. He also was the general manager of the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club.

But a recently released study from the Center for Civic Innovation at the Manhattan Institute shows that schools today are more likely to be named for a natural object than a person.

For example, of the 3,000 public schools in Florida, only five are named for George Washington, while 11 are named for manatees. In addition, nature names for Florida schools increased from 19 percent of schools built before 1958 to 37 percent over the past decade.

Most of the statistics show a decline from naming schools for presidents and prominent national historical figures. However, naming schools for "other people," for example, local leaders, has remained popular, according to the study. From 1958 to 1967, 29.8 percent of schools were named for other people. From 1998 to 2007, 24.6 percent were named for other people.

Brian Kisida, one of the authors of the study, said "most of the time the names were from people we had never heard of, which I think makes it safe to cautiously assume they are local names. Obviously, researching every name we had never heard of would take an enormous amount of detective work. We can, however, safely say most of the people schools are named for are not nationally known figures. That said, they are likely a mix of local, regional and state-level people. …

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