Naming process for new school to begin soon

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They’ve been named after notable principals and superintendents as well as Beloit Iron Works leaders, notable grocers and postmasters who are usually male. Their mascots have been large cats, notably Cougars, and the occasional bird of prey or fighter.

They are the schools of Beloit. And the School District of Beloit needs you to help name its pending new arrival, the southeast intermediate school planned to be located at Milwaukee Road and Lee Lane.

Those with an interest in naming the new school or helping the School District of Beloit determine what to do with its retired buildings are invited to consider serving on the two ad hoc committees — the Naming Committee and/or the Retired Building Committee.

Anyone interested should send a letter of interest to Superintendent Steve McNeal by e-mailing him at smcneal@sdb.k12.wi.us. or calling the district at 608-361-4000. The committees will likely start meeting in August. All ad-hoc committee meetings are open to the public.

The property committee will look at the facility and building needs of the district and where the district office will be located. The committee ideally would have some realtors on it and those involved with commercial property. Sites up for discussion include Royce, McLenegan, Burdge, Kolak Education Center and the acreage owned by the district in the Gateway Business Park.

“It’s always been the idea to have the public determine the buildings’ use,” McNeal said.

McNeal said Board of Education members John Winkelmann and Missy Henderson will serve on the Retired Building Committee and President Shannon Scharmer and member Nora Gard will serve on the Naming Committee, as there needs to be at least two board members on each committee.

Former BMHS Principal and “grandfather of Beloit” Fran Fruzen said schools in Beloit have been typically named after prominent citizens of the day and people who made an impact on the community.

McNeel Middle School, for example was named after James H. McNeel, a principal at BMHS for 33 years, and Aldrich was named after Alonzo Aldrich, president and one of the founders of the Beloit Iron Works.

Beloit Memorial High School wasn’t named after a person, but was dedicated to the veterans of WWII. Fruzen said he pitched the idea of a mascot in 1957, as the school sports teams were known as “the Stateliners” or “the purple.”

“I started a petition for a mascot and said ‘let’s call ourselves “The Knights,’” Fruzen said. “The logo appeared for the first time in 1958.”

All but one school — McLenegan — was named after males. And that’s one of the schools to be retired.

When asked if it was time for a school to be named after a female, Board of Education President Shannon Scharmer said she would bring the issue up to the committee, and noted it may also be time to consider an African American name as well.

Fruzen has a complete history of the naming behind each of the schools in the district. Here is a sample of some of the other notable people schools were named after according to Fruzen’s research.

• Burdge, named after Richard J. Burdge, prominent Beloit attorney, school board member, mayor, legislator and director of the Beloit Iron Works.

• Converse, named after Frank E. Converse, principal of the high school and superintendent of schools.

• Cunningham, named after Lawrence Cunningham, founder of Cunningham Brothers Construction Company, school board member, mayor and state legislator.

• Gaston, named after Nathan B. Gaston, a Beloit manufacturing pioneer.

• Hackett, named after John Hackett, a prosperous grocer, postmaster, mayor and Rock County legislator.

• McLenegan, named after Annie Susan McLenegan, history and English teacher, who developed the high school orchestra and who published a history on the Town of Turtle.

• Merrill, named after S.T. Merrill, Beloit College professor, businessman, bank president and legislator.

• Morgan, named after Hiram Morgan, large property owner in the area of the school.

• Robinson, named after Col. Robert P. Robinson, who taught high school in Beloit. He was a state senator from Rock County and was on the educational committee for the Wisconsin legislature.

• Royce, named after a the Rev. Fayette Royce, director of the Episcopal Church, school board member, superintendent.

• Todd, named after Samuel J. Todd, mayor, state senator, school board member and Beloit city attorney

• Wright, named after Theodore Lyman Wright Sr. who served on Beloit College faculty, was superintendent, school board and helped to start the east and west side school districts and the first high school in Beloit.

Mascot names in Beloit tend to revolve around large cats, birds of prey and fighters.

Names include: Burdge Badgers, Converse Cougars, Cunningham Comets, Gaston Bandits, Hackett Hawks, McLenegan Mustangs, Merrill Tigers, Morgan Stars, Robinson Cougars, Royce Roadrunners, Todd Timber Wolves, Wright Tigers, Aldrich Warriors, McNeel Lancers and the Beloit Purple Knights.

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