The Pasco County School Board had 72 submissions to consider as it chose a name for its next new high school.
But really, it had just one.
Citing their preference for naming a school for the community it serves, board members unanimously decided to call their planned east-county technical high school the Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation. The school is under construction on the Kirkland Ranch property at the corner of Curley and Kiefer roads.
“I’ve always leaned toward naming it toward something related to the place,” board member Cynthia Armstrong said. “That just helps with the community.”
By focusing on “innovation” rather than on a specific field or trade, she added, the district makes clear that the school will transform itself to meet the ever-changing skills and technology that students might need.
“No matter where that academy takes us in the future, we are covered,” Armstrong said.
The name also helps the district meet a term of the contract it signed to acquire the land. The sellers wanted to have some form of “Kirland Ranch campus” on the school, and assistant superintendent Kevin Shibley told the board that the Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation would satisfy that requirement.
At the same time, board members acknowledged that the names of many memorable individuals were suggested for the school.
“There are so many fine people in the list, for me to pick one above others is absolutely impossible,” board member Alison Crumbley said.
Rather than single one out, Crumbley continued, perhaps the district could create adisplay in an alcove of the building to honor the many education pioneers who helped develop eastern Pasco County.
“That way we could acknowledge all of the important people that don’t get their name on a school,” she said.
Chairwoman Colleen Beaudoin offered support for that idea, further offering that the school might have academic programs, or sections of the campus, named after distinguished figures.
Superintendent Kurt Browning said he would get his staff moving to collect history, photos and other memorabilia.
“We can work on that,” Browning said. “That will not be a problem getting that into the school.”
Kirkland Ranch Academy of Innovation is scheduled to open in fall 2021.