River Ridge, Kent Laboratory Academy recommended names for new schools

For elementary school on West Hill; combined academy on East Hill

Kent Laboratory Academy is the recommended name for when Kent Mountain View Academy and Kent Phoenix Academy move into a new building next fall at the site of the former Panther Lake Elementary. COURTESY GRAPHIC, Kent School District

Kent Laboratory Academy is the recommended name for when Kent Mountain View Academy and Kent Phoenix Academy move into a new building next fall at the site of the former Panther Lake Elementary. COURTESY GRAPHIC, Kent School District

River Ridge Elementary and Kent Laboratory Academy are the recommended names for the two new schools under construction in the Kent School District.

The names were revealed during a Dec. 9 virtual presentation by planning principals of the schools to the Kent School Board. The board is scheduled to approve the names at its Jan. 13 meeting. Both schools are scheduled to open next fall.

The district is building a new elementary school at 22420 Military Road S., on the West Hill. Voters approved a bond measure in 2016 to pay for the new school, which will cost an estimated $58.2 million, according to district officials. The school is going up at the former site of Kent Mountain View Academy, which moved into a temporary home on the same East Hill campus as Kent Phoenix Academy.

District leaders decided to combine the Kent Mountain View and Kent Phoenix academies into one school that is under construction on the southwest corner of 108th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 208th Street, the site of the former Panther Lake Elementary. The estimated cost is $43.8 million.

Planning teams of a faculty member and administrator were appointed by the district last summer as advisors to work with a group of students to select a school name for each of the new schools.

The district requires that names of new buildings should be selected based upon geographical location or local community name or distinguished individuals who have served the local community, state or nation, in education or related field. Other considerations include area names of historical significance, geographical landmarks, roads, area names or housing developments.

The groups brainstormed ideas for school names and after a survey of students, staff and families came up with a recommendation.

With the new elementary school on the West Hill above the Green River, the name of River Ridge received 28% support in a survey of students and staff. The name of Rainier View (the school has views of Mount Rainier) received 33% of the vote and Sun View had 21%. Other names received 18% of the vote.

Board member Maya Vengadasalam asked why the name with more votes wasn’t recommended.

Kristi White, planning principal for the new elementary school, explained the decision.

“More people chose Rainier View, but more students wanted the other name (River Ridge),” White said. “There are also two Rainier View names in the area.”

Rainier View is the name of elementary schools in Federal Way and Seattle. River Ridge is the name of a high school in Lacey, near Olympia.

The new grade school will mostly house students who currently attend Kent Elementary and Neely-O’Brien.

The group also recommended school colors of ocean blue, black and silver and picked Raptors as the mascot. A total of 38% picked Raptors compared to 32% for Bears.

Kent Laboratory Academy

The academy will open in the fall with a capacity of 400 students and serve grades 3 through 12. The school is open to all students in the district with no geographical boundaries.

A laboratory school is a partnership between a school and university to explore and implement innovative practices in education. The partner of the Kent School District is the University of Washington Tacoma.

Stephanie Knipp, planning principal for the new academy, said the best of Kent Mountain View and Kent Phoenix academies will be blended at the new site.

A total of 63% of those surveyed supported the proposed name. Other names considered included Kent Unity, Kent Innovation and Kent Griffin.

The recommended school colors are brick red and charcoal gray and the mascot the Griffin, a mythological creature with a lion’s body and a bird’s head. The current mascots of the schools are a lion and a phoenix (a mythical bird), so the new mascot would combine the two.

“I’m quite fond of the Griffin and will need a (academy) sweatshirt when they are available,” board member Michele Bettinger said.


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River Ridge Elementary is the recommended name for the new Kent School District school under construction on the West Hill. The school is scheduled to open next fall. COURTESY GRAPHIC, Kent School District

River Ridge Elementary is the recommended name for the new Kent School District school under construction on the West Hill. The school is scheduled to open next fall. COURTESY GRAPHIC, Kent School District

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