By Craig Campbell, Dundas Star News
A popular local geographic reference, the historic name for a local high school, and a simple version of the same name are the three monikers recommended for Dundas’ planned single secondary school.
Members of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board’s school naming committee agreed the word “Dundas” should be in the name of the school replacing Parkside and Highland – and that those two names should not be incorporated into a new name, during a two-hour meeting at Parkside last week.
Now local trustee Jessica Brennan will seek a little more community input before deciding which of the three suggestions she will move forward at a November meeting of the board – Dundas Secondary School; Dundas District Secondary School; or Dundas Valley Secondary School.
“I’m very proud of what we’ve done,” Brennan said after the meeting.
She said she appreciated the work already completed by the Dundas Secondary School Transition Committee – which helped focus last Thursday night’s discussion – and credited the willingness of superintendent Mag Gardner to include that in the process.
A detailed discussion about board-wide guiding principles, and locally-developed criteria helped the group analytically – yet quickly – narrow down 843 public suggestions to what also happened to be the top three most popular names submitted by the public – at least 25 per cent of those submissions.
At least four members of the transition committee were part of the naming committee, including Harold Huff. He asked early on to speak briefly on the criteria that group developed.
Gardner led a review of each element of those criteria, as the group decided whether the points adhered to the board’s guiding principles, and whether they agreed the ideas should be considered.
During about 90 minutes of discussion, the committee agreed to include key elements of the transition group’s naming sub-committee criteria – having the word Dundas in the name; using Secondary School instead of High School or Collegiate, not using a individual’s name (other than ‘Dundas’), and not incorporating any element of either Parkside or Highland in the new name.
A little over 8 per cent of the public’s name submissions suggested keeping the name Highland.
A consensus was reached that not incorporating the two existing secondary school names would be more inclusive to both school communities, the community as a whole, and help create a brand new future.
“By giving it a truly new name, it’s a merger of equals,” Huff said.
That decision was acknowledged as a unique scenario in the history of naming schools in the Hamilton public board.
“I think this is breaking new ground,” said board archivist John Aikman, who has a seat on every school naming process.
But Brennan pointed out that while such a decision might be rare up until now, it will be common going forward – as the recommendation of several accommodation reviews result in high school closures and mergers across the city. The planned Dundas high school amalgamation is just the first.
Naming committee member and Dundas Museum curator Kevin Puddister told the group Dundas was named after Scottish lawyer and politician Sir Henry Dundas by his friend Governor John Simcoe.
“I was surprised how many people didn’t know the story,” Puddister said after the meeting. “We have to work on that.”
Besides the final three recommendations, Dundas Heights; Dundas Peak, Dundas Falls; and Dundas Community – each followed with Secondary School – made the committee’s first short list.
After a vote to rank the preferred names on the short list, Highland student Kirsten Webb told the group she was aware of some passionate support among students for the name Dundas District – students who are aware of the name’s distinct history as the town’s first high school, on land donated by the prominent Fisher family.
After a few committee members wondered aloud whether Dundas Valley is too common a name, already used by a large number of local businesses and institutions, Parkside teacher Greg Gregoriou suggested its common use makes it a good option.
“It shows it’s a popular name, supported by the community,” Gregoriou said. “It brings the community together.”
Brennan said she wants to talk to members of the community, and Flamborough trustee Karen Turkstra – whose area includes some Dundas high school feeder schools, before deciding which of the three names she will recommend to trustees