Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The school name game: Keep it simple

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has plenty of serious plans for the coming school year,  but I couldn't help noticing the district is also engaging in the time-honored tradition of spiffing up school names.

I was updating my spreadsheets for 2014-15 when I came across the names of the reorganized Olympic High schools:
   *Olympic Biotechnology, Health and Public Administration.
   *Olympic School of Executive Leadership and Entrepreneurial Development.
   *Olympic School of Technology, Entrepreneurship and Advanced Manufacturing.
   *Olympic Math,  Engineering, Technology and Science (the school predates the trendy STEM acronym).
   *And even the once-simple Olympic Renaissance has become Olympic Renaissance School of Arts and Technology.

Olympic students
Whew! Thirty-five words to name a school the size about the size of Mallard Creek High.

If I were queen of the world, I'd limit school names to one or two descriptive words,  plus the clearest possible label  (such as elementary,  middle or high school,  though I realize the proliferation of mixed-level schools complicates that).  I'd remind everyone involved that a name is not a syllabus,  a mission statement or a marketing slogan.  It should be simple and clear enough to define a community and stand the test of time.

Yes, I'm being crotchety about something that's an annoyance when I'm trying to get names right on deadline and make stories fit limited space.  But there's a serious point here, too.

If you're a newcomer moving into the Olympic zone,  what would you make of the list above?  There are three schools of technology and one of biotechnology,  one that offers entrepreneurship and another offering entrepreneurial development,  and nothing about literature or writing or history,  which I'm certain all the schools teach.  Would this entice or confuse you?  (Whether the five-school structure itself is a help or hindrance is a question for another day.)

Long-timers know it's a challenge to keep up with what schools are called from one year to the next.  Cynics suspect that adding trendy twists to names can be a substitute for real action.  Newcomers may struggle to figure out that Irwin Academic Center is an elementary school magnet,  that iMeck Academy is the high school portion of Cochrane Collegiate Academy,  and that terms such as "Collegiate" and "University" (in Harding University High) simply reflect a college-prep aspiration shared by all district schools.

I don't blame CMS for trying to keep up with a changing world and a competitive market.  Flexibility and innovation are great.  I'm just not sure it works to cram too much into school names.

If nothing else,  I can be grateful for the new Palisades Park Elementary School,  which resisted the temptation to put  "STEM"  into its name.

30 comments:

Bolyn McClung said...

.
HOLY ACRONYM BATMAN

Ann,

CMS did sneak in a “trendy” name for one of the five Olympic schools.

Convert each school to an acronym version and you’ll see one is a “STEAM” school.

OBHPA OSELED OSTEAM OMETS ORSAT

Just imagine the embarrassment if the “Olympic Biotechnology, Health and Public Administration” had been named “Olympic School of Health and Internet Technology.”

OSHI…...!!!!!

Bolyn McClung
Pineville
.

Anonymous said...

My rule of thumb: the better the school, the shorter the name.

Anonymous said...

fake fake fake ...

Wiley Coyote said...

Grandiosity: Greatness of scope or intent; feigned or affective grandeur or pomposity; excessive use of verbal ornamentation.

Translated: Lipstick on a pig.

Bolyn McClung said...

.
LET’S HAVE A CONTEST FOR NEW LONG SCHOOL NAMES WITH GOOD ACRONYMS.

I’ll start with renaming NorthWest School of Arts

“STAGE” …School of Theater Arts and Graceful Entertainment




Bolyn McClung
Pineville
.

Anonymous said...

Why not just go back to the word Olympic? Once you get there you can choose an area to concentrate in.....like ALL schools.

Anonymous said...

“Olympic School of Health and Internet Technology.”

Now that is just too funny! Could you imagine the acronym on the athletic uniforms?

Anonymous said...

We always liked Harding University ...

Anonymous said...

MIT inferior compared to those major universal institutions. Must be in Dr. Leake's district.

Anonymous said...

Boyln. Lol.

I second the motion for the word "Academy".

"Derita Montessori Day School"? Have never gotten the "Vacation" in Bible School.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

What percentage of CMS students at "Entrepreneurial" academies can correctly spell the name of their own school on a standardized test? 81% "predicted" pass rate?

Think about it.

Alicia

Anonymous said...

Harding University High school, I never understood that concept, it's not a university.



Anonymous said...

Why dont they call it what it produces, Dropout High School

Anonymous said...

I herby nominate the following Immortels - chosen for their creativity, talent, intelligence and, of course, particular lingistic adeptness - to serve on CMS' l'Academie du Ecole Noms.

Bolyn
Wilely
Shamash
Larry (why not?)

Motto: "To uphold the status quo and lessen the influx of common sense".

Alicia

Anonymous said...

School of Heightened Industrial Technology...

Ann Doss Helms said...

My fear is that Dr. Morrison will work "Every Child, Every Day for a Better Tomorrow" into a school name.

Wiley Coyote said...

9:00

Now that's comedy.

I give you the prize for best response in years!

Wiley Coyote said...

We all know many educrats are incapable of implementing the KISS Method, but here's a start:

PS 1
PS 2
PS 3
PS 4
PS 5
PS 6
PS 7
PS 8
PS 9
PS 10
PS 11
PS 12
PS 13
PS 14
PS 15
PS 16
PS 17
PS 18
PS 19
PS 20
PS 21
PS 22
PS 23
PS 24
PS 25
…ETC.

Anonymous said...

Hough High School is a nice short name. Nice and short, but stupid selection. Shame on the CMS board for continuing to use this name, knowing that its pronunciation is confusing. It's prolly the only CMS school that requires an accompanied phonetic spelling (in parentheses).

Anonymous said...

1:48 PM

I'm always tempted to call it "How High?"

I also like the simple number system (ex: PS 1, PS 2...) but schools would probably complain about who gets a higher/lower number.

Anonymous said...

How is Hough supposed to be pronounced, just curious?

Huff?
seems like a nice school by the way.

Ann Doss Helms said...

Yep, that's it, 4:22.

Wiley Coyote said...

3:38

In New York, they use the PS _ numbering system but many schools still have names.

We should name Waddell PS 10 or PS 25, etc.

Going with some of these monikers to make schools "sound better" and hoping the name transcends into better outcomes in the classroom is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Wiley,
I agree with you, just seems over the top with some of these names for schools. I remember the days when Olympic was just Olympic. I am curious to what CMS would change West Charlotte too, bet Larry would have fit with that one, lol!

I have enjoyed reading the the posts on this topic, good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Which school gets the number after PS 68? Butler??

Anonymous said...

They ought to sell naming rights to schools to raise money. CATS seems to have it working fine.

Wiley Coyote said...

8:20

PS 69

Anonymous said...

CMS doesn't need any more money they get too much as it is. Morrison just needs to use the funds at his disposal more effectively. I still find his hiring of 3 admin officials with a combined salary of over $400K absolutely disgraceful and I don't ever want to hear him pleading for increased funding ever again.

Anonymous said...

Stooges High ?


Ehhhhhh MOrrison ?

Anonymous said...

Ann,

Why they don't understand is that everyone doesn't want to go to college for technology, engineering, math or science. If you go to any university those majors are crowded with students and they graduate virtually jobless. I graduated from Olympic, the now defunct International Studies and Global Economics school, I went on to major in Political Science/International Relations and History. I took classes in global leadership, international business and french language (the official language of the UN). I've gone on to work for the DNC and travel for the dept. of state. I'll admit math, technology or science just isn't my thing! Olympic was doing just fine!!