New school on Plateau named after Rachel Carson

The votes are in, and the new elementary school on the Sammamish Plateau finally has a name.

After 75 nominations, eight finalists were selected. From that pool, 320 students voted to honor Rachel Louise Carson, the scientist and writer best known as the author of “Silent Spring.”

“I think the name ‘Rachel Carson’ fits the school really well, because the school is environmentally friendly and Rachel Carson cared a lot about making the environment better,” said Ellie Woerner, an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Smith Elementary who will attend the new school this fall.

The school will include many “green” features, including a grass roof, recycled materials in the flooring and radiant heat, said Mary Cronin, who will be principal at Rachel Carson and is currently principal at Franklin Elementary School in Kirkland.

“I love the name. I think it’s perfect,” Cronin said. “It’s a fun thing to do a new school. We’ll be developing all new traditions.”

Once the students voted on the top choices, the field was narrowed again to three selections, Carson, Clara Barton and Amelia Earhart. The Lake Washington School Board approved the use of any three of those names, and since Carson had received a majority of the votes, Cronin wrote to her estate to ask permission to use the name. The trustee granted approval, and the new school got its name.

Rachel Carson had a master’s degree in zoology and spent 15 years working for the U.S. government as a scientist and editor. Her book “Silent Spring” and her testimony before Congress in 1963 contributed to the ban on most uses of the pesticide DDT in the United States and a subsequent worldwide ban on DDT for agricultural use. The school district calls for elementary facilities to be named for “deceased persons famous for their work in science, the humanities, letters or education.”

Construction of the school is progressing nicely, Cronin said. “There’s something different done every day. The roof is on, everything is watertight and they’re working on cabinetry.”

Hiring of teachers and staff members is also underway, and the school’s PTA had its first major meeting last week to elect officers.

“We had a very successful meeting and voted in all of our executive offices,” said Diane Loofburrow, who was elected co-president along with Clea Morehart. “We weren’t really expecting that we would fill them all that night and we did, so we had great involvement. I’m really looking forward to getting to know the new (school) community and working with these fantastic students and their parents.”

School staff, PTA members and district officials will meet throughout the summer to continue planning, organizing and making certain the new school will hit the ground running when classes start, Cronin said.

A “meet and greet” is scheduled for students and their parents from 2 to 3 p.m. on Aug. 28 at the school, and a grand opening for the whole community will be on Sept. 25 at a time yet to be determined.

Loofburrow’s son, Kyle, an 11-year-old fifth-grader at Smith said he’s excited that he’ll get to be a part of the school’s first year as a sixth-grader.

“I think it’s really great that our community is recognizing our commitment to this green school by naming it after a person who dedicated her life to making environment a better place,” Kyle said.

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