New name for an old school
Aug 14, 2014 | 1446 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
There’s been a lot of focus recently on the newly-renovated Twin Valley Middle High School in Whitingham, for obvious reasons. What was once named Whitingham School, then renamed Whitingham Elementary/Twin Valley Middle School, is about to receive its third moniker in a decade.

There’s nothing wrong with those changes. The name changes in many ways reflect the evolution of the Twin Valley School District, which has gone from a discussion about how to better serve a declining school population while managing rising costs to a middle/high school collaboration to the full merger of Wilmington and Whitingham schools. And as part of that full merger, the two towns consolidated three schools into two and passed bonds to renovate the two remaining schools, first Twin Valley Elementary, which was completed in fall 2013, and now Twin Valley High, which is about to open its doors in early September. Those two schools represent the future of schools for Wilmington, Whitingham, and many families in the surrounding communities.

While most of the immediate needs concerning the consolidation have been rightly focused on the two remaining schools and million-dollar renovations that have taken place, there are some things that need to be addressed concerning the soon-to-be former Twin Valley High School in Wilmington.

School is about to start, and just about every piece of information out in the world identifies Twin Valley High School as being located at 1 School Street in Wilmington. Do an Internet search and that address appears. Plug the name into a global positioning system device, and you’ll be directed to Wilmington. Even the Twin Valley High School website still shows the address as 1 School Street in Wilmington.

In the past, all of those would have been correct. But in less than three weeks, that will change. Twin Valley High School will be located in Whitingham. School officials need to spend some time updating their information. What will happen when someone who has never been to the school tries to find it, looks for directions, and is sent to the wrong address? We are sure it will happen more than a few times over the course of the coming months. A move of this type requires more than just putting in a forwarding order at the post office.

Then there’s the question, “What do we call the former school in Wilmington?”

While that question may seem at bit small in the grand scale of the entire consolidation and renovation process, it nevertheless is one that needs to be addressed, and quickly.

Times have changed, the old school isn’t the same, and that change needs to be reflected wherever and whenever it can. But aside from the practical reality of an address change, there’s another change that needs to occur.

We as a community need to have some kind of moniker for the former Twin Valley High School. The old school building still has life in front of it. A number of uses have been proposed, and there is planning underway for re-purposing the building. But that process will take some time. Anchor tenants need to found and renovations will need to be completed before the old school can face a new future.

Until that new use takes shape, the venerable old school needs to be called something other than “The Old High School.” Here ares few ideas that come to mind, focusing on the fact the building is in the general and spiritual middle of the area: Valley Community Center; Valley Resource Center; Southern Vermont Opportunity Hub; Valley Hub; Heart of Southern Vermont: The Heart of the Valley.

We assume that none of these names will stick but hope that someone will come up with a suitable moniker from among the many possibilities.

But the point is that the discussion needs to take place now about what the new name of the old school will be. Twin Valley High School is somewhere else, and the building in Wilmington faces an uncertain future. A new name will go a long way toward helping that future come into focus.

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