Iowa City school district names four new schools

Hoover, UI figures among those honored

IOWA CITY — The Iowa City school board Tuesday night approved names for four new schools to open in the coming years.

A school in south Iowa City will be Archibald Alexander Elementary. One on the east side of the district will be Herbert Hoover Elementary. And another in North Liberty will be Christine Grant Elementary.

A new high school in North Liberty will be Liberty High School.

The names were recommended by a 23-person committee that received nearly 180 nominations from the public. The school board approved the names with a 5-0 vote.

Alexander was known as “Alexander the Great” as a University of Iowa football player a century ago. He was one of the first black players at the UI. In 1912, he became the first black person to graduate from the UI’s College of Engineering.

Grant also has deep connection to the UI and athletics. She became the school’s first women’s athletic director, in 1973, and played an integral role in fighting for gender equity in sports.

Hoover was born in nearby West Branch and served as president of the United States from 1929-33.

The decision to name a school after Hoover may raise some eyebrows because the board voted last year to close the existing Hoover Elementary in Iowa City, which will occur in 2020. That decision drew objections from many people, although it also had supporters.

Board member Tuyet Dorau questioned that recommendation, saying new schools typically get names new to the district and the Hoover “community is still kind of reeling a little bit.”

But committee member Josh Schamberger, president of the Iowa City/Coralville Convention and Visitors Bureau and a Coralville parent, said there was strong support for Hoover through recommendations.

“I hear what you are saying, but I think it absolutely would be an error” not to use it, he said.

Liberty High, like City High and West High, would be a nod to the city or geographic part of the district where it will be located while also continuing the district’s tradition of not naming its comprehensive high schools after a person, Assistant Superintendent Ann Feldmann said.

The committee rated names based on eight criteria, with a person of admirable character, ties to Iowa and diversity considered the most important.

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