Following merger decision, elementary school unveils new name, branding to prepare for student influx

Officials from the Washington County School District tape the new name "Paradise Canyon" over Dixie Sun Elementary as part of a rebranding presentation in St. George, Utah, May 15, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — As Dixie Sun Elementary prepares to merge with Coral Cliffs Elementary in the fall, officials from both the school and the district unveiled a new name for the school — making it the third name in the school’s history.

Principal Susan Harrah stands beside committee members who helped decide the new name, mascot and colors for Dixie Sun Elementary in St. George, Utah, May 15, 2019 | Photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

Students at Dixie Sun gathered outside Wednesday morning as Principal Susan Harrah and officials from the Washington County School District presented the school’s new name: Paradise Canyon Elementary.

The decision to rebrand the school, located at 1795 W. 1230 North in St. George, came after the Washington County School Board of Education approved the merger of Dixie Sun and Coral Cliffs in February in order to increase enrollment and save taxpayer dollars.

Read more: School board approves boundary change, merging 2 elementary schools

Students cheered Wednesday as officials rolled out large poster boards with the new name and the school’s new mascot: the Pumas. In addition to the name and mascot, the school’s colors will include navy blue, silver and teal.

The committee in charge of rebranding the school was made up of students, teachers and parents from both Dixie Sun and Coral Cliffs. The committee narrowed down 100 names to seven, which were then narrowed down after a community vote to Desert Sands, Mountain View or Paradise Canyon.

“The significance of Paradise Canyon, I think, is that it had a really nice flow, and the school board liked that,” Harrah told St. George News, adding that it was also the No. 1 vote with teachers, students and parents.

During Wednesday’s presentation, Harrah told students that the word “paradise” has a significant connotation because it means “a great place to be.” Paradise Canyon also represents a hike at Snow Canyon State Park.

While students showed excitement for the new name, the decision to merge the two schools hasn’t been an easy one to make. In previous interviews with St. George News, Steve Dunham, communication and public relations director for the district, said parents from both schools were concerned with the proposal, including feeling like they weren’t being heard by the district, security concerns and children suffering from having to change schools.

Read more: Concerns from parents prompt district to propose alternative to merging 2 elementary schools

However, after weeks of meetings and public hearings, the school board unanimously voted to approve the merger. Coral Cliffs, which has approximately 445 students, will now serve as a professional development school along the lines of the Edith Bowen Laboratory School in Logan. The school mentors preservice teachers in classroom settings. The professional development school will house 140-150 students from Coral Cliffs, while the remainder will attend Paradise Canyon.

A photo of Coral Cliffs Elementary School, which will now serve as a professional development school, St. George, Utah, Jan. 23, 2019 | File photo by Markee Heckenliable, St. George News

In addition to repurposing Coral Cliffs, the approved proposal also entails a district-wide boundary change. The changes are expected to save taxpayers $350,000.

Harrah told St. George News that the school had to hire four more teachers in order to accommodate the additional students but added that there’s enough space for the students, and no teachers will be assigned to portable classrooms.

While the school has gone by two different names in its history — Dixie Downs and Dixie Sun — Harrah told students and faculty that the name isn’t important compared to the foundation that former generations have built. (see Ed. note)

“It’s not the name who makes us who we are; it’s us who makes us who we are,” she said. “You have a great history of wonderful things we’ve done at the school.”

Ed. note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Dixie Sol as one of the previous names of the school.

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Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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