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Ogden School District likely moving away from name ‘T.O. Smith’ for new elementary school

By Emily Anderson standard-Examiner - | May 25, 2021

OGDEN — After deciding to rename a new building that will house students who previously attended Horace Mann Elementary School last year, the Ogden School District will likely also rename T.O Smith Elementary School and is in the beginning stages of considering a name for the new Polk Elementary School.

Set to open next school year, East Ridge Elementary School is taking the place of Horace Mann, and instead of Falcons, it will also have a new mascot — the Raptors.

The trend marks the Ogden school board’s intentions to move away from schools named after people. Although the members of the board have not cited a specific reason for the shift, expression of the desire comes in the same year numerous schools across the country have decided to change names that honored historical figures tied to slavery, racism and sexism.

Following numerous surveys sent to students, faculty and parents at T.O. Smith Elementary, the school board narrowed down the selection for new names and will return to the community with just two choices — Ogden Elementary School or Liberty Elementary School. Both of those names come from community suggestions.

The district cut out T.O. Smith as an option at a recent board meeting because, like Horace Mann, it is named for an individual. Thomas O. Smith was the superintendent of the Ogden School District from 1948-1969. Prior to that, he served as a teacher and principal at multiple schools throughout the district.

At the board meeting, Superintendent Rich Nye said as the district informs the community of its two options for a name, it will also give “an explanation that we honor, appreciate T.O. Smith, Superintendent Smith, and that there would be a place even within the school that would maintain that memory.”

The entire Ogden School District is located within Ogden City and currently has a high school named for the municipality. If the name is selected to replace T.O. Smith, it would be the first elementary school to bear the name.

Liberty Elementary School was suggested because of the new school’s location on Liberty Avenue. School board Vice President Joyce Wilson said she favored considering that name and Ogden because with the new building, a new name would offer a new beginning, and board member Susan Richards said she liked Liberty’s “feelings of patriotism.”

The new building for T.O. Smith Elementary students is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

Construction around the skeleton of what used to be Polk Elementary is also supposed to finish in 2022. In the coming weeks, the Ogden School District will begin collecting feedback on the possibility of renaming that school.

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