Beachside High: New St. Johns County high school near artificial beach gets a name

Design renderings for High School III (Copyright 2021 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.)

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – Despite being miles away from a natural beach, a new high school being built in St. Johns County will be named Beachside High School, a divided school board decided Tuesday.

Although it’s a ways from the ocean, the new school will be located inside Beachwalk, a private masterplan community in St. Johns that features an artificial 14-acre lagoon with an artificial beach. The Beachwalk community is located on County Road 210 just east of Interstate 95 and encompasses 900 acres.

Bayside High School, Ocean Valley High School, St. Johns High School and Sampson Creek High School were also in the running, but Beachside High won on a 3-2 vote from the school board due mostly to the outpouring of support from the community over the last two weeks.

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“We have heard from many, many, many, many people requesting that we name the school Beachside High School because of its proximity to the beach of the 14-acre, whatever that body of water is called, in Beachwalk. I have no opposition to that,” board member Beverly Slough said during a lengthy discussion on the new name.

School board members Bill Mignon and Kelly Barrera voted against the name.

“My concern with that is that it’s one school and a great big district, and when you look at the mileage of how far it is from the beach, outside of that community when you say Beachside it’s almost humorous, because folks are like, it’s not close to the beach,” Barrera said.

Mignon, who supported naming the new school St. Johns High School, expressed concerns over the late push for Beachside which came after the official naming process.

In a previous meeting, board members seemed to be leaning towards Sampson High School.

A representative of more than 550 parents of future students of the new high school, which will be located on Beachwalk Boulevard, told the school board there was overwhelming support for Beachside High School. They argued the name is fun and unique to the community.

“This is the most difficult decision we’ve had to make all year,” school board chair Patrick Canan joked.

Up next, a mascot name will be picked by a committee made up of community members and that’s down to five, mostly water-themed choices: Barracudas, Beasts, Kraken, Riptide and Tritons.

Beachside High School principal Greg Bergamasco said the school colors will be blue, lime green and grey.

The school, which is set to open in time for the 2022-23 school year, is expected to have more than 2,000 students and alleviate overcrowding issues at nearby schools.

Despite a growing student population, the district said it doesn’t expect another high school to be built in the county for at least five years because it doesn’t have the borrowing capacity to fund a new high school.

The cost to build Beachside High was expected to be around $60 million.

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