The Bentonville School District’s planned second high school, in Centerton, will be called Bentonville West High School, the School Board decided Monday night.
Bentonville School Board members voted 5-2 to apply the name to the new high school, which administrators plan to build on Gamble Road in Centerton. Rebecca Powers and Brent Leas voted against the name.
The board also voted Wolverines as the school’s mascot.
“It’s not the most beautiful looking critter, so it’s going to be fun to make it exciting,” said school district spokeswoman Mary Ley. “And maybe we can get Hugh Jackman (who plays Wolverine in the X-Men series) to open the school. Who knows?”
Board members chose the school name from among three finalists they had narrowed down from a larger list. The other finalist names were Bentonville Alliance High School and Alliance High School. Board members chose not to consider the two names receiving the most votes from students and student leaders—Centerton High School and Kathy Murry High School.
Murry was the Fulbright Junior High principal who died suddenly in January at the age of 59.
Board member Rebecca Powers told 5NEWS before the vote that she felt the board acted inappropriately by throwing out the two names voted highest by the students themselves.
After board members narrowed down the name options to Bentonville West, Alliance and Bentonville Alliance, students voted Bentonville West as their top choice.
Supt. Michael Poore said the students made the right choice among the three finalists.
“Sometimes you think, will junior high students really be able to give you the data or information you want, and they did,” Poore said. “You should always trust the voice of the kids. They are a great resource for us.”
Administrators admitted during the naming process that there was a political divide between those who wanted the new school named Centerton High School and those wanting it to be called Bentonville West High School. The new high school will be built in Centerton, but about two-thirds of its students will come from Bentonville, depending on how the attendance zones for the schools are drawn, said Mary Ley, spokeswoman for the Bentonville School District.
Principals during the voting process chose Bentonville West High School as their top choice. Some students, student leaders and principals were allowed to vote in the process in order to guide the School Board in their choice. However, the vote was non-binding, and the final choice was to be made by the School Board, Ley said.
Board member Matt Burgess said the new school will benefit from the Bentonville brand.
“When you’ve got the name out there out front, it’s going to bring value to students who apply for colleges and scholarships, so it will always bring value,” he said.
The School Board’s vote for mascot lined up with the students’ top choice. Students voted Wolverines as their favorite mascot, with 2,319 votes, while Jaguars came in second place with 1,822 votes. Diamond Cutters, Falcons and Barracudas rounded out the top five vote-getters among students.
Principals voted Bearcats as their top choice for mascot, with 15 votes. Bobcats narrowly came in second place, with 14 votes, while Bears, Jaguars and Chargers rounded out their top five.
Student leaders’ top vote-getter for mascot was the Mustangs, with 27 votes, while Jaguars trailed in second place, with 25 votes. Bearcats, Bobcats and Mavericks were also in their top five choices for mascot.