Precedent favors “Gateway High School” as official name for MMM

Posted on September 04, 2019, 9:43 am
5 mins

It was supposed to be just an ordinary, run-of-the-mill “site selection” review by the Lee County School District’s Construction Advisory Committee. Ten to fifteen people showing up in an empty field to grade and evaluate a particular plot of land and rate how suitable it would be for a new school.

But when Gateway residents found out the CAC visit would be taking place on March 1, 2017, they decided to hold a rally in support of the new school. T-shirts were printed. Signs were made. Future students of the proposed school were taken out of class so they could be there.

District 7 board member Cathleen Morgan was on hand, and she shared how impressed she was at the support the school district was getting from the Gateway community. Normally, new school projects are met with negativity and doubt. But in Gateway, even something as mundane as a site review was met with enthusiasm and cheer.

The Lee County Sheriff’s Office was tipped off to the rally and sent multiple deputies as they would do with any crowd gathering. Multiple elected officials showed up to observe. Every local television outlet sent reporters to the rally, and several of the networks did live remotes during their dinner hour newscasts.

It may sound strange, but on March 1, 2017 the Construction Advisory Committee site review on Griffin Drive was the place to be.

Fast foward two and a half years later and the school is now a reality, complete with a fantastic new principal in Neketa Watson, and the major enhanced curriculum offerings set.

Next up is the school name.

And remember those signs and those t-shirts? They all had one name on them:

Gateway High School.

Having observed this entire process from day one, the expected name has always been Gateway High School. It’s what the community wants.

There are a thousand other names that would be perfectly fine, but only one of them is what the community has been hoping and expecting it to be named: Gateway High School.

It’s been brought up that the school cannot be named Gateway High School because it would be too close to Gateway Charter High School. One word difference.

But established precedent says differently.

Cape Coral High School opened in 1977.
Cape Coral Charter School in opened 2005.

One word difference.

Gateway Elementary School opened in 1992
Gateway Charter Elementary School opened 2003.

One word difference.

Bonita Springs Charter School opened in 2002
Bonita Springs High School opened in 2018.

One word difference.

So if Bonita Springs could have such a similar name chosen by the school district, why is it suddenly not permissible in Gateway?

Make no mistake: there are those in the decision-making process who feel the district’s policies won’t allow MMM to be named Gateway High School. One of them even told me there was a Florida Statute preventing it (there isn’t).

But if that’s the case then how was Bonita’s name allowed?

I don’t care if you name the school after King, Edison, Shoemaker, an animal, flower, or anything else… the school district would commit an unforced error that would undo years of goodwill and support from Gateway residents if they choose to name the school anything other than Gateway High School.

Bonita Springs is proof it’s allowed.

So that excuse is gone.

It’s not as if Gateway High School is some bizarre, controversial name here.

It’s simple. It’s clear. And it’s what the community wants.

The powers that be in the school district picked the right location and the right principal. Now the hundreds of people who stood out in that field on March 1, 2017 are hoping they’ll go three for three and give the school the right name.

The final decision for MMM’s name is expected to be made on November 5, 2019.

Editor of the Gateway Sun and owner of restaurant delivery service Florida Food Runner.

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