With attendance area adjustment complete and construction underway, Howard County’s 13th high school in Jessup is missing one key ingredient before it opens in fall 2023: a name.
A committee tasked with recommending names for the new school presented a list of three finalists Nov. 17 to the Board of Education, all of which contained the word “quarry.”
Quarry Heights High School was the committee’s top choice. Quarry View High School and Quarry Rock High School were also on the list.
“One of the defining geographic features of that particular region and Howard County is quarries,” committee historian Renee Bos said.
Quarries have been present in the Jessup region for more than 150 years, according to Bos. Savage Stone, LLC, a granite quarry that began operations in 2006, is adjacent to the new high school′s Mission Road location.
The board warned that including “quarry” in the name would tie the school to an ongoing commercial enterprise and asked why more popular community suggestions were not included on the final list.
The naming committee, composed of students, staff and community members from the areas served by high school 13, identified their Top 10 choices after reviewing responses to an October community survey. Students who would potentially attend the high school then voted on the shortlist and the results were used to inform the committee’s final three recommendations.
“A lot of board members are surprised [that] quarry has been so consistent,” board member Chao Wu said.
Policy 6050, which governs the naming and renaming of the county’s public schools, requires that all schools be named for geographic terms, including “physical and human geographic features,” in the surrounding area. Schools cannot be named after a person and the duplication of names or initials of other schools in the district should be avoided.
Selecting a mascot and school colors is a separate process, undertaken by the new high school’s student body.
More than 1,100 suggestions from HCPSS students, staff and family members came in via the October survey. Mission High School and Jessup High School were submitted 227 and 157 times, respectively, by far the most of any suggested names.
“Mission was considered,” Bos said. “The problem is that it refers to a very specific Palatine novitiate that was there [on Mission Road]. So, we are actually referencing a Roman Catholic institution that puts together some cultural proficiency issues when we’re looking at a public school system.”
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Board member Jolene Mosley said she had heard from residents in the high school’s attendance areas in Guilford and Elkridge who wanted names without the term quarry to be considered.
Mosley’s motion to add the name Mission Spring High School to the list passed unanimously Nov. 17.
The ultimate name choice is left to the school board.
“You can name the school whatever you want to name that school,” Superintendent Michael Martirano told the board after the committee’s presentation. “It is your policy.”
The school board will vote to approve the school’s name Jan. 12. The new school will open its doors to about 800 freshmen and sophomores in August.