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West Fargo names its newest elementary school

An artists rendering of what will be the West Fargo School District's newest elementary school to be built in Fargo will look like. YHR Partners.

WEST FARGO—The West Fargo School District's 15th elementary school slated to open in fall 2018 has been named after the Fargo neighborhood it's in.

The West Fargo School Board unanimously voted to name the school Willow Park, the original name of the development in the Fargo neighborhood. The land, which is just west of Blue Cross Blue Shield headquarters at 4510 13th Ave. S. in Fargo, is now an empty grassy knoll surrounded by apartment buildings and retail stores.

District spokeswoman Heather Konschak said the district received 35 name suggestions from the public, which were narrowed down to a list of 11 that included: Dakota, Heritage, Inspiration, Inspire, Justice, New Horizons, Prairie, Triumph, Unity 141, Willow and Willow Park.

Konschak said the person who submitted the name Unity 141 included a letter to explain the name. The letter said it used "unity" because the school, which will be built in Fargo, is uniting the cities of Fargo and West Fargo and it unites different cultures because it will serve as home to the Newcomer Center. The number was included because when the school opens in 2018, the district will be 141 years old.

At its April 24 meeting, the board decided to drop the number 141 but keep Unity as a choice as well as Justice and Willow Park.

School Board members were then asked to rank the three remaining names. Five of the seven school board members voted Willow Park as their favorite name and the remaining two said it was their second choice.

Willow Park is the name of the neighborhood where the kindergarten- through fifth-grade school will be built as part of the $98.1 million bond passed in 2015. The school district bought the 11.83 acres of land from Blue Cross Blue Shield in 2016 for about $3.5 million.

"Because it will be a neighborhood school, Willow Park really fit it since it's the name of the development," said Board Member Allan Skramstad.

Brooks Harbor Elementary School, which will open this fall as part of the 2015 bond referendum, was also named for the development where it is located.

"It makes it a little easier to know which schools are where in West Fargo, so I like having that," said Board Member Andrea Payne.

The district will break ground on the new elementary school, at 4901 15th Ave. S., Fargo, at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 10.

Wendy Reuer

Wendy reports for The Forum and West Fargo Pioneer, where she is also assistant editor. A University of Minnesota Morris graduate from North Dakota, Wendy started her career in television news and entertainment in Minnesota and at CBS in Television City, Calif. before working at newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota. 

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