Now for Something Completely Different: Name for Poway School

By a 4-1 vote Monday night, the K-8 School 39 was renamed Design 39 Campus.

A rendering of what Design 39 Campus will look like. Photo Credit: Melissa Phy
A rendering of what Design 39 Campus will look like. Photo Credit: Melissa Phy
Chosen carefully to reflect the different learning nature of the school and "match its mission," a name has been approved by the Poway Unified School Board for School 39: Design 39 Campus.

Straying from the traditional way of naming school sites, such as after streets or geographical features, the new K-8 school's principal Sonya Wrisley said she and her team of teachers chose the name to “reflect the unique learning environment” the school will have and to deflect the fact that it's a "new school."

"Communities flock to our new schools. We’re hoping to be able to change the concept," Wrisley told the board at Monday night's meeting. "Our name will help the community to understand that this is a different school."

Mixed reaction was had from the board, with some members liking it, while others were left somewhat speechless. Board member Andy Patapow said he liked that it was different, but member Todd Gutschow wasn't so sure it would catch on.

"I like 'Design,' I like 'Campus,'" Gutschow said. "It doesn’t roll off my tongue… maybe I’ll get used to it."

Board President Marc Davis offered his thoughts on the new school name a bit more colorfully: “Design 39… it’s like when my wife told me what she wanted to name our first child.”

Board member Kimberley Beatty called the name a "radical change" and was hesitant to vote to approve the new name, suggesting the board postpone the vote so it could be discussed further.

But Superintendent John Collins applauded Wrisley and her team's creativity and effort in naming School 39, which it's been known as for the past two years as it's been conceptualized and designed.

"It makes you stop and say ‘what does that mean?’” the superintendent said.

Wrisley broke down the name, Design 39 Campus, for the board to fully understand.

  • Design: "Design will be a focus," the school's principal said. "Designed thinking, experimentation. Where students create, rather than consume."
  • 39: "For two years, we have been School 39," Wrisley said. "We also did a quick poll on a couple hundred kids and 95 percent were much more attracted to something like this than a traditional name. We’ve been branded as 39."
  • Campus: "School being a very finite place. We’re trying to convey the notion of a learning experience, rather than a learning environment," Wrisley said. "Campus seemed to open things up a little bit more than the traditional word of school."
Other names considered  by Wrisley's team were: Design Campus, Camino Ridge Design Campus and Design for Learning.

Even amidst the hesitation and reservations by some members of the board, member Penny Ranftle moved to approve the new name with Patapow seconding the motion. 

By a vote of 4-1, with Beatty opposing, Design 39 Campus became the new name for School 39 Monday night.

The new school site sits directly across from Del Norte High School on the southwest corner of Lone Quail Road and Camino Del Norte and will serve the heavily-impacted communities of 4S Ranch, Del Sur and The Lakes.

It's been designed by architect BakerNowicki Design Studio as a 21st century learning environment, with flexible instructional settings and a full range of technology tools to support individual student’s intellectual development.

Echo Pacific Construction is in the early stages of building the facility from the ground up.

Do you like the name Design 39 Campus? Tell us in the comments below.

ANDY BELLO June 26, 2013 at 10:09 AM
Well it sounds a little like area 52 at first glance a little mystery I would like to know more about the teaching criteria. Poway Unitified School District is one of the finest if not the finest in our nation. I trust the board in there decision to name the new school Design 39 Campus. it says to me we are state of the art teaching. we are moving into the future with the name as well as teaching and learning skills. along with some of the best teachers,principles,staff and superintendent i find it very exciting that our school district is looking into the future for all of our students. Thank You Andy Bello
d June 26, 2013 at 05:16 PM
The name is ironic, which is often times the result of a "design by committee" decision. For a campus that prides itself on "Designed thinking, experimentation. Where students create, rather than consume.", it is neither imaginative nor creative. "39" remains in the name because it was the generic name given first - how is this keeping with their goal of designing thinking/experimentation? More importantly, the name also ignores any connection to the surrounding community - it fits in more with New York elementary schools (like "PS 39") than anything else in 4S Ranch or California for that matter. It's eventual identity will probably be more tied to Del Norte HS: "Where is your child going to school?" "Design 39 Campus" "What/Where is that? Are you moving to NYC?!" "Ummmm...it's across from Del Norte HS" "Ohhh I see - in 4S!" "Why did they name it that?" "Ummmm...because they do design...and they were the 39th school" "That's actually not a very creative name." "Nope." "They should redesign that name" [note: this will be a running joke in PUSD] "Ha Ha...very funny." And what will they put on school "spirit wear" (T-shirts, backpacks, sweatshirts, etc that promote school pride and fundraising)? You can make a pretty cool shirt for a school named "Oak Valley", or "Del Norte" or "Monterrey Ridge" - I can't imagine a "Design 39" shirt that kids/adults would want to wear. Traditionally, there are 2 groups of people who have numbers on their shirts: sports teams, and convicts - and neither have the exact same number on all of them. "Campus" is indeed a more generic term than "school", but is this really best for a K-8 school? Campus can refer to much more than a school - business locations, hospitals, and churches are common examples. I don't believe adding this level of vagueness to the school's name in any way "opens things up".
k July 31, 2013 at 12:49 AM
Let the naysayers begin! I can only hope that the students who attend this new school will be fully educated in writing complete sentences, the proper use of punctuation, and the definition of the word "ironic". I laughed when I read the comments as I have no doubt that the creative and inspired PUSD students/staff will be able to come up with some wonderful designs for the school spirit wear. Really? These are thing things that some people focus on? Let's open our minds and support the momentum that is behind the creation and opening of this much needed school.


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