NEW PALESTINE — Doe Creek Middle School could get a new name next year.
When officials from Southern Hancock schools reopen the former Doe Creek Middle School building next fall and move seventh- and eighth-graders from the current Doe Creek Middle School, both buildings likely will get new names: New Palestine Intermediate and New Palestine Junior High.
The building that currently houses Doe Creek Middle School is slated to become the district’s intermediate school for fifth- and sixth-graders, while the facility that previously housed middle school students before closing several years ago will more than likely be named a junior high, officials announced this week.
On Monday, school board members discussed renaming both schools, saying New Palestine should be reflected in both to maintain consistency throughout the district. No official decision was made during the board’s meeting Monday night, but members could vote on the name changes as early as next month during the next regularly scheduled board meeting.
Jessie Hurst, parent of two children in the district and a former Doe Creek student, has mixed feelings about the name change, she said. She likes the idea of naming the schools after the town to be consistent but still feels a bit nostalgic thinking about Doe Creek.
Other parents, including Codi Strong, a mother to three district students, found upsides to the possibility.
For one, the name change might save them a little money on clothes promoting school spirit, she pointed out.
“We can buy apparel that will last,” she said. “I love that we’d be New Palestine Dragons for years.”
Doe Creek Middle School leaders said they also support the change. Principal Jim Voelz lovingly refers to the older Doe Creek Middle School as the “vintage Doe Creek.” Still, an official name change to distinguish the two schools would be alright by him, he said.
“I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Doe Creek Middle School,” Voelz said. “But I agree with the board. It’s the people in the building, not the name.”
Since district officials are already in the process of preparing to remodel the former Doe Creek building and hire new administrative staff for the intermediate school, now is an ideal time to make the changes, officials said.
School board member Craig Wagoner, a graduate of Southern Hancock schools, said he wants to see consistent branding throughout the district.
“This is a great time in my opinion for us to align some things within our district,” Wagoner said.
While New Palestine High School and New Palestine Elementary are the only schools located within New Palestine town limits, the new intermediate school and junior high are close enough to bear the town’s name, officials agreed.
The other schools are named after their geographic location or the township where they’re located — Sugar Creek and Brandywine elementaries, for example. Neither elementary school’s name would be changed.
Board member Bill Niemier — who joked many of the schools his own children attended were named after creeks — said consistent names for the only intermediate, junior high and high schools in Southern Hancock would promote unity and school pride among the district’s learners.
“You get the kids to buy in at an earlier age, and it’s not limited to athletics — it’s at every level,” Niemier said.