The new schools will be named West Rapids and East Rapids Elementaries.

The public spoke, and the 318 School Board listened. In an overwhelming majority, the community chose East Rapids and West Rapids as the names for the two new elementary schools in Grand Rapids and the Board will approve those names at the February 10 School Board Meeting.

“We are thankful for everyone who took the time to participate in the voting,” said Board Chair Pat Medure. “The response was incredible.” The district received over 2,000 votes on the new names.

In December, the ISD 318 Naming Committee asked community members to submit name suggestions and their reasons. Names were submitted via interviews, online, and in K-12 classrooms. After reviewing all submissions, the committee narrowed the suggestions in accordance with the district naming policy and then worked together to select five sets of names to be presented in the final community vote.

Community suggestions varied, but a request to include names that could be translated into Ojibwe was repeated in many suggestions.

“It was great to see all of the suggestions for individuals, but the committee struggled to select just two names and were concerned that the names could lose meaning over time,” said Interim Superintendent Sean Martinson.

The committee asked the public to vote on the five sets in an online survey and then presented the top three choices to the School Board on Monday. In order, the top three were West Rapids Elementary and East Rapids Elementary, Pine View Elementary and Prairie View Elementary, and Westview Elementary and Eastview Elementary.

The Board also reviewed an update from the district’s Program Design Committee. The 35 members of the Program Design Committee spent a year examining elementary programing to ensure that the district is meeting federal and state requirements while providing varied and engaging opportunities for kids. The committee reviewed standards for Art, Media, Music, PhyEd, STEAM, and World Languages.

“I would love to add all of these opportunities for our children and I know we all want what is best for our kids, but we are limited by time and budget constraints,” said Martinson. With that in mind, the new elementary schools will offer Music and PhyEd each for 25-minute blocks four days a week. On the fifth day, students will have Art for a 50-minute period. Media centers will still be staffed and available during the school day for student and classroom usage.

Like other changes coming with the new elementary schools, these recommendations will be reviewed after a two-year period. The next steps in programming will be for the School Board to approve staffing changes at a March School Board meeting. For more information about the Naming or Program Design Committees, contact the Superintendent’s Office at 218-327-5704 or email facilityplan@isd318.org.

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