Committee recommends three names for school district's newest elementary school

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comSeptember 29, 2012 

The naming committee for Los Banos' newest elementary school has decided on three names it will ask the school board to choose from.

The eight-member panel met Wednesday and voted to recommend Mercey Springs Elementary, College Greens Elementary and Harvest Elementary. The Los Banos Unified School District Board of Trustees will decide at its Oct. 11 meeting which of the three names will be used.

The district has purchased the former Merced College, Los Banos Campus, in the 16000 block of Mercey Springs Road to assist with its overcrowding problem. The district will keep one building on the campus that was previously used as a preschool, and it will demolish or sell the other structures and replace them with pre-fabricated classrooms that will be made off site.

Paula Mastrangelo, area administrator for elementary education, coordinated the committee. She praised its members' ability to work together and make a decision within two meetings. However, there was vigorous debate about which names should be chosen.

Early in the process Mercey Springs Elementary was suggested and a committee member was appointed to research what would be the proper spelling. Mercey Springs has been spelled "Mercy" and "Mercey" in the past. Wednesday Committee member DJ Barcellos said somebody will complain if the name is chosen.

"They're going to fight over how to spell Mercey. No matter what, somebody's going to say it's spelled wrong," Barcellos said.

The springs near Los Banos were shown to John N. Merci by Native Americans near the turn of the 20th Century. Merci, who was an immigrant, changed his name to Mercy. The name "Mercey" was later used as a name for the bottled water that came from the springs.

A name that was close to making the list but failed is Carol Booher Elementary. Booher, now deceased, was a longtime nurse at the district and performed charitable acts in the community. Committee member Thais Duni said she has a difficult time naming schools after people from the community because she feels like its choosing one person over another.

"To focus on one person, I feel like I'm saying that one's better than that one," she said.

Carol Booher Elementary failed to make the list by one vote. Other names that failed include Dairy Farms Elementary, Farmland Elementary and Dairy Springs Elementary. Valley Farms Elementary was also rejected because the committee felt it would be confused with Green Valley Charter School.

Earlier this month the public was asked to email suggestions to the committee with a short explanation of why they believed the name would be a good choice. Committee member Diana Ingram said Mercey Springs Elementary seemed to be the most popular name among the public.

Enterprise reporter Corey Pride can be reached at (209) 388-6563 or by email at cpride@losbanosenterprise.com.

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