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Students, staff and community participated in effort to change elementary school names

OUTLOOK FILE PHOTO - Wood Elementary School will become Powell Butte Elementary by the time students enter school in the fall of 2018. The Centennial School Board voted Wednesday to rename two elementary schools that formerly had the word "Lynch" in their names.

Meadows Elementary School, formerly Lynch Meadows, will continue to be called Meadows Elementary School. Wood Elementary School, formerly Lynch Wood, will be called Powell Butte Elementary School. The Meadows and Wood names were only temporary after the "Lynch" had been removed from their names last summer.

"We probably will be able to have the brand new names up on the schools this fall," said Shar Giard, chairwoman of the Centennial School Board.

At a meeting Wednesday night, June 6, the board voted on the new names after earlier input from students, staff and the community. Each school had presented three options for the board to consider.

Last summer, the district and school board caused a ruckus by proposing to change the names of three elementary schools: Lynch View, Lynch Wood and Lynch Meadows.

The schools originally included "Lynch" to honor the Patrick and Catherine Lynch family. In 1900, the family donated one acre of land to the district for a school. But Centennial has become more racially diverse and many argued that some students and families felt unsafe in a building with the name "Lynch" attached because of the violent, racial connotations of the word.

Many in the community objected to any change, noting the Lynch family should continue to be honored, and since Lynch was a family name, it was not connected to any meaning of the word associated with racially charged violence.

The district said in July 2017 that "the Lynch school names have proven to be a disruption to the learning environment for our increasingly diverse student population." The move to drop "Lynch" from the school names had been discussed for well over a year prior to 2017. Other local institutions including parks, churches and businesses also have the word in their name.

In August, the all-volunteer school board voted to change the name of Lynch View Elementary School at 1546 S.E. 169th Place, to Patrick Lynch Elementary School. At that time, the board said it would study renaming Lynch Wood at 3615 S.E. 174th Ave., and Lynch Meadows at 18009 S.E. Brooklyn St. In the interim, the schools were referred to simply as Wood and Meadows.

Giard praised the schools and their communities for their hard work.

"Those are two excellent names," she said.

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