Kern High School District's newest southeast Bakersfield high school will soon have a name attached to it after the top eight entries were revealed to the Board of Trustees Tuesday.
KHSD Director of Business Kenny Seals revealed four regular names and four proper names the board will consider: Prosperity, Victory, Panama, Tacoma, David Nelson, Buck Owens, Thomas Baker and Mary K. Shell.
In May, the district asked for the public's help in naming its 19th comprehensive high school. Community members could enter electronic or fax submissions to the KHSD Superintendent’s Screening Committee for the Naming of New Facilities. There were 986 submissions received, Seals said.
"We're excited to see this new school in southeast Bakersfield come to fruition," Seals said.
The board will vote on the school's name at its next meeting on Oct. 7.
The submissions had to follow the KHSD Superintendent’s Screening Committee for the Naming of New Facilities criteria, which included being free from biases, prejudices, political or religious connotations and taking into consideration location, community and local heritage. Seals said the committee used a variety of factors to narrow down the submissions, including longevity, region, mascot, duplication and practicality of the initials.
Board President J. Bryan Batey asked if the committee received any feedback from the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District over the possibility of the new school being named Panama High School. Deputy Superintendent of Business Scott Cole said the district was contacted and made aware of the selection.
"We did contact the superintendent and CBO for Panama, and they expressed some concern regarding using their name because of the confusion factor that we have another district and high school named Panama, but the committee didn't have the knowledge prior to selecting the name," he said.
Trustee Jeff Flores did not understand Tacoma on the list, but Seals explained it is a Native American and Latin word that means to go beyond or surpass, giving the school an aspirational name.
Batey joked, "if we were to name it Thomas Baker and it had a football field, would it be Baker's Field?" which was met with laughter and sarcastic boos from audience members.
The 250,000-square-foot school will be located at the northeast corner of Panama Lane and Cottonwood Road and construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2020. It is set to open by August 2022 and is estimated to serve up to 2,500 students.
It is the first comprehensive high school to be built since Mira Monte and Independence high schools opened in 2008.