Lee School Board Unanimously Supports Amanecer Elementary for Lehigh School
Lee County School Board members unanimously support Amanecer Elementary School as the name of a new elementary school.
The new school to be built on Sunrise Boulevard is now to be called Amanecer Elementary School. Amanecer is the Spanish word for sunrise.
The school board will be asked to make a final decision at a formal board meeting later this month.
Other school news: The school name New Lehigh considered by the school
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The choice was recommended among three finalists. In addition to Amanecer Elementary, the names of Lehigh’s first two residents, Lee Ratner and Gerald Gould, were on the list of finalists proposed to the school board for consideration.
“We basically settled on Amanecer because 50% of the population of Lehigh, at least in the surrounding area, is Spanish-speaking,” said Butch Swink, a citizen naming committee member and neighbor of the new school site at the 641 Sunrise Blvd.
“I don’t know what genius came up with Amanecer,” Swink said, “But the 50% of people who don’t speak Spanish will add a word to their vocabulary, and we keep alignment with the (name poll) preferences of vote.”
School board members heard from an advisory committee set up to review possible names for the school. The panel narrowed the list down to six names and submitted three to the school board for review.
Eliminated from consideration was nominating the school for baseball star and humanitarian Roberto Clemente and inventor and prominent Lee County resident Thomas Edison.
Community members involved in reviewing possible names indicated that their goal was to create a “community-centric” name.
Panel members considering a permanent name for so-called Elementary J said Clemente and Edison had no connection to Lehigh.
Read more: New Lehigh Middle building changes plans to address overcrowded schools
Both Edison and Clemente were prominent in Lee County during the winter months, although half a century apart.
Edison built a winter house in Fort Myers in the 1800s, and Clemente spent several spring training seasons at Terry Park in the 1960s while a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball club.
Naming the school for Edison was also considered to raise conflicts with the current name of Edison Park Elementary School, located between Euclid and Edison Avenues.
The ad hoc committee also found that the resemblance to an existing school was a reason to strike it off the list.
Sunrise Elementary was considered too close in name to Sunshine Elementary also in Lehigh Acres.
Board member Chris Patricca noted that the confusion Sunrise would cause with the existing Sunshine elementary became quite clear when presenting the naming options to the board.
Such confusion could lead to serious problems with calls from emergency services to nearby schools with similar names.
“I don’t know if you know this, but when you were talking about slide 3, you called it Sunshine Elementary, which I think perfectly illustrates the problem of (calling it) Sunrise Elementary,” Patricca said. . “I fully support your recommendation and appreciate your work on this.”
Sunshine Elementary School was the first choice out of more than 8,300 responses to a preference survey.
In addition to Amanecer, school board members were given two prominent names in Lehigh Acres history as possible choices.
One possibility was Lee Ratner Elementary in honor of the man who used a fortune selling rat poison to purchase land and subdivide what is now known as Lehigh Acres.
The third of three finalists was Gerald Gould Elementary after the first president of Lehigh Corp., which handled the subdivision and development of what is now a 94-square-mile community of nearly 115,000 people, according to the census of 2020.
School board members unanimously supported the Amanecer Elementary name with a thumbs-up, the board’s way of reaching consensus on issues.
Nominating committee member Swink urged the committee to consider Lee Ratner or Gerald Gould for names of other new schools to be built.
Swink’s personal favorite is naming a school for Ratner’s farm, horse ranch, and airplane landing strip – known as Lucky Lee Ranch. But he stressed that it would only be appropriate as a primary school.
“I don’t think any self-respecting high schooler wants to go to Lucky Lee High School; Lucky Lee Elementary looked cute,” he said.