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Sullivan high school survey tops 10K, open until noon Friday

Rick Wagner • Mar 21, 2018 at 6:00 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Mass grading work on the new Sullivan County high school site near Tri-Cities Airport might start Monday. That would be eight days before the school board is set to choose a name, mascot and colors for the 1,700-student facility, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2020.

The name choices, part of an online survey also including mascots and colors, are Sullivan West, West Ridge and Sullivan Ridge.

Meanwhile, noon Friday is the deadline to participate in an online survey on the name, mascot and colors, a survey that already has drawn more than 10,000 responses. A naming committee will go over the results March 28 and make its recommendations, which the Board of Education will consider in a work session March 29. The BOE is to make the three choices April 3 after a recommendation from Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski.

She said the grading contractor has placed trailers and equipment at the work site, with excavation to start Monday if weather permits. “As soon as this dries out, you’ll see dirt fly,” Rafalowski said Tuesday.

The survey is on the Sullivan County Schools website, sullivank12.net/. Since it went live March 13, through about 7 p.m. Wednesday, Rafalowski said it has gotten 10,117 responses. That compares to 4,082 that the naming survey for the new middle school, Sullivan East Middle, last year.

With the decisions likely to be made April 3, a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site of the $60 million facility, off Exit 63 of Interstate 81, might take place in April or May.

PARTICIPATION BETTER THAN EXPECTED

“I was not sure we’d get over 10,000,” Rafalowski said Tuesday. “We’ve actually had people in other countries vote.” However, she said a review of IP addresses also did not indicate efforts of an individual to sway the vote by multiple submissions.

“Both of them (high school and middle school surveys) got a lot more votes than we expected,” BOE Chairman Michael Hughes said, adding that he had predicted 8,000 or more responses would be good and 5,000 would be OK. “We were ecstatic about the number of (middle school) votes.”

He said the high school will impact more people than the 800-student middle school. The middle school survey chose only the name, with a naming committee for that school agreeing that the East High colors of red, white and blue and mascot of Patriots also should serve the middle school, which is about a mile from East High on Weaver Pike.

Hughes said he’s received few negative emails opposing the school but has seen negative comments about it on Facebook. And judging from the participation in both surveys, he said, he believes the public for the most part supports or at least accepts the idea of the new schools. He said Tennessee has given the go-ahead for the grading, which he said likely would start Monday.

“It’s (survey participation) a lot more than I thought it would be,” BOE Vice Chairman Randall Jones said Tuesday. “It’s good when you have more than 9,000 or 10,000.” 

THE CHOICES AND A LITTLE BACKGROUND

The three potential names are Sullivan West, West Ridge and Sullivan Ridge. The three potential mascots are Jets, Hawks and Wolves. And the four potential color schemes are purple, gray and white; sky blue, charcoal and white; black, white and silver; and navy, light blue and silver.

Sullivan West, in addition to being the name of the former high school in Sullivan Gardens that now houses the middle school portion of Sullivan K-8, reflects the western end of the county. The other high school remaining in the county will be Sullivan East.

West Ridge and Sullivan Ridge pay homage to Centenary Ridge and Hunt Ridge. Sullivan is from Revolutionary War Gen. John Sullivan, for whom the county is named.

As for the mascots, Jets pays homage to the nearby airport, while Wolves and Hawks are creatures indigenous to this area.

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