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Naming schools moves past geography

Build a school and the Florida Department of Education slaps it with a single-letter moniker if it's an elementary school or two letters for middle schools, and three for high schools.

The new school being built in Hernando County is dubbed J - its temporary state name.

But someone has to come up with permanent school names and it isn't always easy.

The School Board recently issued a written policy more than a page long that puts the task into committee hands.

In the past, naming schools could be as unpredictable as a pop quiz. Some were based on geography, but the rules for which moniker tagged which building were varied.

In the 19th century, amid shootings, lynchings and devastating hurricanes, some 40 schools cropped up here. Most were one-room, named for an area.

In more modern times, the geography thing stuck for a while.

Staff members say Westside Elementary wasn't named until just before opening its doors in 1972. All summer, the school had been called Spring Hill Elementary.

But since the newest school in Brooksville then was Northside Elementary (later renamed Mitchell Black Elementary), the board figured schools should carry county geographic positions in their name.

That decision sealed names for Eastside Elementary and West Hernando Middle. Deltona Elementary and Fox Chapel Middle were named for their street address.

In some cases, students voted on names for new schools: Fox Chapel, for instance, Central, Pine Grove and probably a few others. It's tough to find people who remember the details.

Nature Coast High adopted Gov. Jeb Bush's new name for this section of the Gulf Coast - he held a naming contest, too.

Challenger, according to district spokesman Roy Gordon, was among the first schools to be named by policy.

Community members, the principal and others formed a committee and honored the ill-fated space shuttle mission.

STAR Education Center originally opened as Opportunity School in 1976 and became STAR (Students at Risk) Education Center.

Chocachatti's name was selected by principal Michael Tellone to honor an Indian encampment that appeared on an 1823 map. The historic site was previously spelled Chicuchaty, Chihuchaty, Chichichate, Chocochattee and Chocachatti, among others.

Then there are the schools named for people. F.W. Springstead (High School) was a 20-year School Board member and upstanding Brooksville businessman. His sons still live here.

Dolores S. Parrott (Middle School) taught at the old Brooksville Elementary. When she died, she was principal of Brooksville Junior High, which moved and became Parrott Middle, says Diane Dannemiller, of school services.

Dannemiller recalled Robert R. Moton (Elementary School) as principal of Moton High, now the Head Start Center.

Floyd Elementary's Web site says J.D. Floyd contributed 39 years as teacher, principal, assistant superintendent, secondary education supervisor and maintenance director.

He served on the Brooksville Housing Authority, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Hernando-Sumter Community Action Agency and held high rank with the Frederick Kelly Elks Lodge.

Lastly, at Hernando High, according to 2004 Times report, you'll find a classroom and the gym named for Mike Bristol and Mike Imhoff, both murdered in 1996.

The weight room at that school commemorates Jerome Brown, alumnus and All-Pro Philadelphia Eagles lineman who perished in a 1992 car crash. The Educational Resource Center in Brooksville is named after Elaine Beeler, longtime teacher and assistant principal.

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