Monday night, it was all about following the dots.

Red, green, yellow, and orange, marking Oregon School Board members’ choices to make the next round of “cuts” as they trimmed possible names for the new K-6 elementary school under construction in Fitchburg.

And there was some serious subtraction going on.

From a list of 140 “unique” names, from “Ageless Wonder Academy” to “Woodview Elementary,” board members collectively chose seven “semifinalists,” with plans to trim that number once more at their Oct. 28 meeting. District students would then vote to pick the winner.

In alphabetical order, the names are: Forest Edge, Forest Meadows, Harmony Woods, Lacy Woods, Majestic Meadows, Nine Springs and Waubesa Springs.

In a process that ran from Aug. 28 through Sept. 27, district students, parents, staff and community members were invited to submit names meeting criteria including aligning with the OSD mission, representing its geographical area and enduring over time “without controversy.” A total of 204 were submitted, with 38 cut as duplicates and 26 excluded due to not aligning with the criteria.

District superintendent Brian Busler said he was “impressed” with both the creativity and the volume of submissions.

“I was thinking we'd have over a hundred, and to get over two hundred is really quite amazing,” he said.

To help pare down the still-ponderous list of 140, board members Monday night used an “Affinity Diagram,” a visual tool used to organize large amounts of information. On large strips of paper in the back of the room with all the school names, board members placed five colored stickers each were given as their votes.

After a few minutes of pondering and placing, Busler then counted the dots and identified groupings of five names with 3 or more votes, and seven with two or more. The board decided to pare the list to seven, and Busler said he would “drill down on those and give you summary documents by the end of the week listing those schools with the rationales associated with it.”

“That takes us from bigger to smaller to focus and reflect on for a period of time,” he said.

Board member Ahna Bizjak said she voted for one of several variations on “Waubesa” names, explaining that it’s a fitting tribute to an important natural feature in the area.

“The West Waubesa watershed is a significant natural body this whole area drains into,” she said. “When I worked for the City of Fitchburg and we were planning the Terravessa neighborhood … a lot of really important design elements were put into that development to minimize the impact to those wetlands and the watershed.”

Board president Steve Zach said the board will “come back in two weeks and have a conversation about how many of that field (of seven) we want, and if there's any more information we need about the name.”

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