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The survey says: Website results to help name new Sullivan school

Rick Wagner • Aug 15, 2017 at 10:00 PM

BLUFF CITY — Sullivan County’s new middle school might be named in September, and the new high school could have a name by January, according to Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski.

Four out of five choices in an online survey reference in some way the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail going through Sullivan County near the middle school site at Weaver Pike and Harrington Hollow Road, and the survey including the choices went live online Tuesday morning.

The 800-student middle school will take students from Bluff City and Holston Valley middle schools, which will close, and the middle school portion of Mary Hughes School, a K-8 facility. Students, faculty and staff of those three schools will have the chance to vote online Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday of next week, Rafalowski said.

Rafalowski said she likely will recommend a name to the Board of Education at its Sept. 11 meeting, following input from the online survey on the school system’s website, www.sullivank12.net/, under the title “A New Trail Along an Old Path.” The website also includes information about the school and the history behind the trail and will be updated as the building project progresses. Rafalowski said groundbreaking likely will occur this fall.

Of the five prospective names on the survey, three are related to the trail, one that references the mountain view from the school and the fifth choice takes its name from nearby Sullivan East High School.

During the Revolutionary War, the 330-mile Overmountain Trail was used by a group of men from the region who gathered at the Pemberton Oak, which stood not far from the site of the future school, during their journey south to fight the British. The trail goes from Abingdon, Va., through Sullivan County and North Carolina to Kings Mountain, South Carolina.

A committee seeking potential names got Mountain View Middle School and Victory Mountain Middle from students; Victory Trail Middle and Overmountain Middle from the community; and Sullivan East Middle from faculty and staff. The new middle school is to adopt East’s red white and blue colors as well as its Patriots mascot, which Rafalowski said was the overwhelming choice of all input the committee received.

She said names for both schools are needed for practical reasons sooner rather than later, including applying for federal Internet access funding called E-Rate and to give the communities surrounding them, students, school employees and the general public something to call the future facilities other than the “new schools.”

She has said the new high school’s name also might have a historic connection, but she has declined to say what that might be. That school will be off Exit 63 of Interstate 81, near the old Sam’s Wholesale Club and a few miles north of Tri-Cities Airport and Northeast State Community College. 

The 1,700-student high school will replace Sullivan North and South high schools and a portion of Central High, with some students from Central going to an enlarged East. Central and South will become middle schools, while North, purchased for $20 million by Kingsport City Schools, will become a Kingsport middle school.

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