3 names considered to replace Wilkes Elementary

The serious business of selecting a new name isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.

After six months of collecting, researching, and vetting possible names for the Captain Charles Wilkes Elementary School renaming, the Banbridge Island School District Wilkes Renaming Committee has announced three name suggestions for school board members to consider.

The committee worked from a list of 89 suggested names, narrowed it down to three contenders, and submitted the finalists to the school board for consideration.

At the top of the list are Akio Suyematsu Elementary, x̌alilc (Halilts) Elementary, and Sunrise Hill Elementary.

The committee also recommended officially recognizing the Orca as the school’s mascot.

Lifelong resident, Akio Suyematsu, who became known as “the last Japanese American farmer on Bainbridge Island” farmed his land for 84 years.

The committee had planned to present the renaming suggestions in February, but vetting the recommended names involved reaching out to families and organizations directly tied to the name suggestions. BISD public relations officer Erin Bischoff said the process took a bit longer than anticipated.

Members of the Renaming Committee will explain its selection process and the rationale for the three names at the March 30 school board meeting. The school board is scheduled to select one of the three suggestions to rename Wilkes Elementary.

The renaming committee members included; district staff, administrators, parents, community members, and students who met every month with committee chair Amii Thompson, BISD Executive Director of Elementary Teaching & Learning, who worked to find school names that would be in line with the district’s values.

The next BISD school board meeting is March 30, 5:45 p.m., at the Bainbridge High School Theater, located on the corner of High School Road and MLK. Jr. Way. Greeters will direct people to the theater. The meeting will also be available via Zoom.