New Dexter Elementary School

By Lonnie Huhman,

The parking lot at the new Dexter elementary school was being worked on here in this photo on Nov. 15

The Dexter Community School district is expected to select a name next month for the new elementary school, as its construction nears its an end.

Just this past week as the snow fell, the parking lot for the school that is connected to Cornerstone Elementary School was put in. The outside of the school has been built and workers are busy inside.

Now it needs a name before students and staff from Bates Elementary School can call it their new home.

Over the past month or so the school district has gone through a naming process. From that has come two options, which will be voted on by the school board next month.

The first option is the entire complex, which will be the new school and Cornerstone, could be named the Dexter Early Education Campus or Dexter Early Elementary Complex, and the schools would be named Cornerstone and Bates.

The second option would have the entire complex called Harbor Elementary while the two schools would be Anchors and Beacons.

The naming options were presented to the Dexter Board of Education on Nov. 12, by Bates principal Ryan Bruder and Cornerstone principal Craig McCalla.

They said they surveyed both their staffs. They asked staff if they would prefer to keep Cornerstone and Bates as the names for each school/wing or consider new names for one or both schools/wings? And if they would prefer one name or no name for the entire building complex, keeping the names of each school/wings?

Bruder said neither question had an answer that reached the 85 percent level of consensus among both staffs, so the next step was to ask the community through survey. Bruder said they had over 400 responses, which were also shared with both staffs and from that more staff discussion was had and from that came the options.

In voting on the two options, Bruder said it was tight race among staff, but the majority, although not 85 percent, liked option one.

Bruder said he and McCalla believe the staff wants to have a name for the entire complex because it will represent the coming together of the two schools.

“It’s an opportunity for them to come together for all of our young fives through second-grade students,” Bruder said to the school board of having one name for the entire complex.

Both said they expect to be dual principals of the complex or campus. McCalla said the new complex will present incredible opportunities for the students and staffs to work together.

Bruder said among Bates staff the idea of keeping the Bates name into the new school drew a mixed reaction. He said some see it as the name of the building and should stay with the building while others saw the name as the students and staff that call the building on Baker Road home.

This was the first time the school board, as a whole, got a look at the naming options. They did have some initial reaction to them.

School board member Rob Mitzel said if a fresh start is wanted by the district then maybe they should look at option two, which fellow school board member Julie Schumaker said she likes the idea of looking at a fresh start.

School board member Barbara Read said she likes having elementary complex for part of the name because it probably best represents what that location is. She said they already have campus for the entire DCS and the students there will be elementary students.

School board member Dick Lundy said the board should probably see things through the fresh start view.

School board vice president Daryl Kipke said for the complex name he likes the early elementary complex name.

Read said the school board should seek further community input about the two options before it makes a decision at its Dec. 10 meeting.

The school board was told by staff the current plan is to move students into the new school in late January. A ribbon cutting will be held for the community to see the new school.

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