Whittier elementary school changes name

Whittier School for the Arts, 315 W. 26th St., will be renamed Whittier International Elementary School to reflect its status as an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IB/PYP) school.

IB/PYP is a rigorous international program that emphasizes global awareness. It trains kids to be thinkers, inquirers and communicators.

Whittier IB students who graduate from the K-5 school can move on to a similar program at Anwatin Middle School, 256 Upton Ave. S. and eventually Southwest High School, 3414 W. 47th St.

Kids and other community members voted on possible new names in a mock election Oct. 25. Their other choices were:

– Whittier International School of Education

– Whittier International School of Excellence

– Whittier International Academy

– Whittier Global Elementary School

– Whittier Institute of Global Studies

Whittier International Elementary School won with 205 votes out of 905 total. The purpose of the election was to give kids the opportunity to practice citizenship and tune into current affairs, said Whittier Principal Armando Camacho.

The decision-making helped teach young kids about voting and being a voice in the community, he said. “It gave the students insight into campaigning. The beauty of it is that the students picked the names and came up with the choices. It was all student-generated,” Camacho said.

Additionally, he pointed out that such student engagement is one of IB’s main objectives: “The name will reflect what we’re doing in the building now.”

Furthermore, the new name honors the neighborhood’s diversity. “Minneapolis is a very segregated city in terms of race,” Camacho said. “We hope our school becomes more diverse and well balanced with students from all walks of life. We’re more diverse now than we have ever been, and we’ll be at the forefront of international education.”

Elizabeth Hall Elementary at 1601 Aldrich Ave. N. also received a new name to coordinate with Whittier’s – Elizabeth Hall International Elementary School – as it adopts IB as well.

The School Board agenda was scheduled to discuss the names at its Nov. 15 meeting, after the Journal’s deadline. If there’s no opposition to them, they’ll be formally adopted at the Nov. 29 Board meeting.