The list of suggested names for the third District 833 high school is down to 10, according to Dave Bernhardson, principal on special assignment and coordinator for the naming committee process.
The committee met on Monday, April 16 and whittled down the list of 178 suggested names submitted by the public and district staff members.
Among the names are East Ridge High School, Midland High School and River Valley High School.
School board member Jim Gelbmann proposed to add Alden M. Olson to the short list of proposed names, but the committee did not accept the idea. Olson, who died in November 2005, served as a board member and was Oltman Junior High School principal.
Gelbmann, who serves on the naming committee, asked the committee through an e-mail to expand the list from 10 to 11 names after the meeting.
There is a "significant amount of animosity from Cottage Grove residents" who do not believe the school's location at Bailey Road and Pioneer Drive is neutral, Gelbmann said.
"Since the location cannot be changed," Gelbmann said, "I thought the naming of the new school could help give Cottage Grove residents a greater sense of co-ownership of the new high school."
Committee Member Deanna Dohrmann, responding by e-mail to Bernhardson, said the committee was well aware of Gelbmann's position. She said the committee discussed it several times before making the final list.
"If we are to respect the process for how the names were excluded and included, adding the name back on the list would go against the process," she said.
Gelbmann, failing to get the Olson's name on the committee's top 10 list, said he wanted the name on the Web site list to determine community response to the proposal.
In an e-mail to Bernhardson and committee members, Gelbmann said he would abide by the committee's list if Olson's name did not get community support via the Web site.
Bernhardson said he asked committee members to tell him, by Thursday noon, April 19, if they wanted to add Olson's name. A few members said they were neutral on adding another name. Of the others who responded, none wanted to add a name, according to Bernhardson.
"It doesn't seem to be productive to have an e-mail debate," Bernhardson said Thursday after the deadline.
The committee debated the name list in a positive way, he said.
"We talked about 'unity' and what it means for the district. Members gained much from reading the district's history book and noted the many contributions by past school board members," he said.
Olson could be remembered by naming a media center or field house in his honor. There could also be a plaque in the new school noting Olson's long service and contributions, Bernhardson said.
The committee did not select any names that resulted from using word-scrabble combinations such as "Woodgrove," he said.
Students on the committee said they wanted a school name that is unique and not a duplicate of another high school name.
Bernhardson said a final naming committee meeting date has not been set.
The naming committee is expected to submit the final four names to the school board at a 6 p.m. workshop on Thursday, May 10.
The board is expected to make a final decision at the regular meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 24.
School names are on the district's Web site at www.sowashco.k12.mn.us this week until Monday, April 28. The public can indicate which name they like best after clicking on "High School Name."