Its 19th campus opens three years from now, and the Kern High School District needs to come up with a name for it. A number of factors must be taken into consideration in the decision-making process, but the most important one is this:
The name must not offend anyone.
The new comprehensive high school, to be built at the city's ever-expanding southern border, will reside on the corner of Panama Lane and Cottonwood Road, just west of the carrot-rich farmland of Lamont.
Banned from consideration are names with "political or religious connotations" or those that "recognize an individual." The implication is that somebody somewhere is bound to be offended by whomever the selection committee might choose to honor, and the school district just can't have that.
George Washington owned slaves. Franklin Roosevelt had a mistress. Susan B. Anthony was a socialist.
Earl Warren, the homegrown Supreme Court chief justice was — well, you know. Liberal.
Dolores Huerta? No, no puedes.
People are the products of their times and their circumstances, but we tend to judge them through our contemporary, black-and-white lenses and our cable news filters. What school board wants to try to explain that from the dais to a crowd of stop-indoctrinating-my-kid protesters?
So, for decades, the KHSD has embarked on a policy of selecting school names that elicit the slightest possible emotional or intellectual response. Take, for example (and forgive me if this is your alma mater), Golden Valley High School. The name doesn't actually mean anything, or at least not much. Yes, Bakersfield is in a valley, and, yes, "golden" evokes value, quality and sunshine. But what a generic cop-out.
We also have Mira Monte (translation: Mountain View), Ridgeview (translation: Mountain View), Independence (but subject nevertheless to federal, state and district education requirements) and Liberty (ditto: school officials are not at liberty to deviate from standards).
Then there's Frontier, which evokes a sense of rugged individualism and Old West ideals associated with struggle and conquest. Oops — did I just write "conquest"? So much for that ban on political connotations. One culture's conquest is another's subjugation and ultimate destruction. I protest.
Another factor in the selection process is the "recommendation" that the new school's name start with a letter that has not already been taken by another school in the district. For example, the KHSD wouldn't want to choose "Boilerplate" High School because "B" has already been taken by Bakersfield High School.
So, given that constraint, what's left? Six of the last seven letters of the alphabet and a total of 11. Here they are, each with my controversy-free and/or regionally appropriate and/or American-value-upholding school name suggestion: D (Destiny); J (Justice), O (Optimism), P (Pluribus Unum), Q (Quaint), T (Tierra Buena), U (United), V (Vanilla), X (Xenophilia), Y (Yes We Can) and Z (Zanahoria).
Think you can do better? OK, yes, you probably can. The KHSD is accepting suggestions until the end of May. Visit the district's website, khsd.org, and look for the Name Our Next School Contest link, or pick up a contest form at the district office at 5801 Sundale Ave. Those who submit the winning submission will receive a school cap and sweatshirt after they are developed by the new school. Go Vanilla Puddings!
Spanish word of the day: Zanahoria, n, carrot.
Ready to get your twang on? It's time for the annual Boxcar Festival. Get the details from the man himself, Mike McCoy, executive director of the host Kern County Museum, Wednesday at noon on "One on One," my weekly webcast on bakersfield.com.
I'm offering a two-fer this week.
Thirty-eight years after participating in the heinous murder that introduced the community to the Lords of Bakersfield legend, Bobby Mistriel is a free man, and he's got stories. Lots of them. Tune in Friday at noon when Mistriel joins me for a special edition of "One on One."
You may have noticed that The Californian took home a few trophies (well, certificates) last weekend at the annual California News Publishers Association awards in Los Angeles. Columnist Herb Benham captured a first in the column writing category and former Californian photojournalist Henry A. Barrios won two firsts for photography.
Lost among all of those thirds and fourths were two awards I found noteworthy.
First and second in the Special Sports Section division were the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times, and third was The Californian's BVarsity high school football preview. Fourth place was the San Diego Union Tribune. Those are competitors with some seriously deep resources. So, kudos to our Teddy Feinberg, Trevor Horn, Mike Griffith and the rest of the guys for hanging tough against the big boys.
In the feature/arts category for special sections, the top winners were the L.A. Times, Napa Valley Register and San Jose Mercury News. Fourth was The Californian's "The Year in Dining" section, and fifth was a section produced by the S.F. Chronicle's Food & Home team. Again, great work against competition with superior staffing resources. Cheers to Stefani Dias, Kelly Ardis and the rest of our Eye Street contributors.
A great, old local tradition returns in a few weeks when the Beale Park Band summer series resumes on Sunday, June 9. This year's concerts will be June 9, 16, 23 and 30, each starting at 8 p.m. The concerts, held on the historic bandstand right there among the great old homes of Oleander Avenue, will transport you right back to 1930.