Almanac

Viewpoint - March 19, 2014

Editorial: Laurel plus Laurel = confusing

We certainly respect the work that the Menlo Park City School District trustees have put into planning and promoting the successful passage of a bond measure to fund building a new elementary school on the old O'Connor School campus on Elliott Drive in the Willows, where it most recently has served as the German-American International School.

But we can't agree that the linkage between the existing Laurel School on Edge Road in Atherton, and a new school on the O'Connor site in Menlo Park means that both schools should go by the same name, Laurel, with a secondary name that will attempt to differentiate between the two.

Although no decision has been made, the following ideas for names were thrown out at a recent board meeting: Laurel Lower School and Laurel Upper School; Laurel at Edge and Laurel at Elliott; and Laurel Menlo Park and Laurel Atherton.

The board decided last year that the existing Laurel, which will enroll K-2 students once the new school is opened, and the new school, with grades 3-5, would be one school community (named Laurel), but that a secondary, informal identifier would be given for each campus.

But why not simply give each campus its own name? Tacking the Laurel name on both sites dilutes the name of each school. We can see parents getting confused and forgetting to tell friends which Laurel school their son or daughter is attending.

The school district community — the parents, teachers, students and administrators — all will know that a second-grader at the existing Laurel will "graduate" to the new school (on the old O'Connor site) for grades 3 to 5, and to Hillview for grades 6-8.

The Menlo Park community has known the Willows campus as O'Connor for many, many years. It was named after the nearby O'Connor Street. Please don't confuse us by pasting a Laurel label on a school many, many residents will know only as O'Connor. In all Almanac stories leading up to the bond issue, the campus was labeled "the O'Connor school site." Names tend to stick to sites like O'Connor even if a new school is built on them.

We hope trustees will reconsider their plan to confuse the community with two Laurel schools at different sites. It would be much easier for everyone if Laurel remained Laurel on Edge and Ringwood, and the district bowed to tradition and named the new 3-5 school O'Connor. It would make all our lives easier.

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