Names for our new schools
We are excited to announce the names of the district’s three new middle schools and the new facility for On Track Academy. After receiving more than 1,400 name submissions over several months of discussion and public input, the SPS School Board choose the following school names:
Northeast middle school: Denny Yasuhara
Mr. Yasuhara taught at both Logan Elementary and Garry Middle School. He was a civil rights activist during the course of his life. He also served as the president of the Spokane Coalition for Human Rights and was active within the Japanese community. According to an article, Mr. Yasuhara was a huge advocate for his students. While teaching at Logan, he would use money from his own paycheck to buy shoes, clothes and school supplies for his students in need. Several articles about Mr. Yasuhara all say the same thing: he left behind a legacy of fighting for all students, the hiring of minority teachers, fighting for justice for all.
Northwest middle school: Pauline Flett
Pauline was an elder in the Spokane Tribe who was determined that their Salish dialect would be written down, taught and preserved for future generations. She co-wrote the first Spokane-English dictionary and taught the language at EWU. Her notes are held in collections at EWU and the Smithsonian Institution. She was a pillar of the tribe’s language education programs, which include an immersion school for children in Wellpinit.
South middle school: Carla Peperzak
A Dutch Resistance operative and Holocaust freedom fighter during World War II, Carla Peperzak moved to Spokane in 2004. Now in her 90s, she has shared her story with students and others across the region in the hopes that education will prevent anything like the Holocaust from ever occurring again. She was honored in a 2015 state Senate resolution, and again in 2020 as Washingtonian of the Year.
On Track Academy: Lisa Mattson On Track Academy
Lisa Mattson was an integral part of forming On Track Academy and has been the school principal since 2010. Prior to that, she held several coordinating and counseling positions at John R. Rogers High School since 1998. The original name - On Track Academy - was intended to reflect helping students get “On Track” for graduation.
This is the first time ever that SPS has named four schools at the same time. The process was guided by SPS School Board policy and procedure 6970. Next, each new school community will be asked to help select their school's mascot during the 2021-22 school year. After student, staff and community input, a mascot for each new school will be recommended to the Board of Directors for approval.
These new schools are possible thanks to the Spokane community’s passage of the 2018 school bond.