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SJC school board names new schools

Nocatee, Durbin Crossing K-8 schools to open in fall

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Two K-8 schools under construction in northern St. Johns County were given names Tuesday morning in a vote by school board members.

After hundreds of suggestions from members of the community were taken, "School II" in Nocatee will be called Valley Ridge Academy and "School HH" in Durbin Crossing will be named Patriot Oaks Academy.

"What you name it, it's there forever so we put a lot of thought into it," said St. Johns County School Superintendent Joe Joyner.

Both schools are due to be complete in time for the 2014-15 school year.

"A school name represents a community, and the people who live in that community buy into it, they have an emotional investment in their children. So the school name is important," principal Emily Harrison said.

Surveys that the community took last year generated three proposed names for each school.

"They're names that are endemic to the area, some are like the geographical landmarks that are endemic to that area," said Joyner.

Nocatee K-8

  • Valley Ridge Academy
  • Discovery Trail Academy
  • Palmetto Cove Academy.

Durbin Crossing K-8

  • Crossing Oaks Academy
  • Islebrook Crossing Academy
  • Patriot Oaks Academy

The board selected Patriot Oaks on a 3-2 vote, but the selection of Valley Ridge was unanimous.

The mascot for Valley Ridge Academy will be the Hawks and their school colors will be blue and green. Patriot Oaks Academy has not decided on a mascot or colors.

"The territory of Florida was actually brought in to the United States by a group of people who were called Patriots in the early 1800s," school board member Beverly Slough said.

The second part of the name also has meaning. The oak in the name Patriot Oaks comes from the fact that there are a lot of oak trees in the area, which were once used for making ships.

"I like it better when we can have historical significance because our area is so historic, such a strong part of our nation's history," Slough said.

Patriot Oaks' new principal, Emily Harrison, envisions a technology-rich environment, emphasizing leadership skills.

"We look for students to not just look at the box, but to step outside the box and maybe even create a whole new box for our future," Harrison said.

Because of rapid growth in the northern half of St. Johns County, the schools are expected to be near capacity when they open in August.

"It's really exciting and exhausting because everything starts from scratch, to where you are going to drop off the children to where you are going to eat," Joyner said.