SULLIVAN — The new school will get to keep the old name.
At its Jan. 7 meeting, the board of Regional School Unit 24 voted unanimously to keep the name Sumner Memorial High School for a portion of the $44-million combination high and middle school that will replace the existing high school in Sullivan.
The middle school, which will be primarily housed on the second floor of the 105,342-square-foot building, will be called Sumner Middle School. The property and building as a whole will be called the Charles M. Sumner Learning Campus.
The names were recommended by a 14-member naming committee comprised of teachers, community members, alumni and students. In order to get community input, the group surveyed both students and community members, receiving a total of 689 responses, said Curriculum Director Nikki Chan, who also heads the committee.
“It was very clear,” she said. “Do not change the name of Sumner Memorial High School.”
Although those who responded to the survey expressed an attachment to the Sumner name, they also said they wanted a name that would differentiate between the two schools.
“There was a strong sense of a need for identity difference between the middle and level the high school,” Chan said.
The discussions leading to the committee’s recommendation were not quick or easy, she said, adding that other names were considered, including Flanders Bay and Schoodic Area before the group decided unanimously to recommend keeping the name Sumner at both levels.
“Community identity is very important and we did not want to take that lightly in the process,” Chan said.
The committee’s work is not yet done. Instead of dissolving, the group will make recommendations for middle school colors and a mascot.
Construction on the new campus is expected to begin in July. The new school building will serve up to 500 students with 26 general classrooms, five science classrooms, 13 collaboration rooms, three industrial arts classrooms, an enclosed open-air courtyard, a high school gym along with a separate middle school gym, a learning commons and a performance space with a stage and a cafeteria and kitchen.