Staff editorial: Unity shouldn’t stop at district name change

JagWire staff

The Board of Education and district both made steps forward on potentially choosing a new common name for the school district, in an effort to rebrand and unify the entire district. While changing the common name of the district will ultimately be beneficial, the district will not truly be unified unless it makes additional efforts to bridge the gap between Mill Valley and De Soto High School.

The district currently includes parts of De Soto, Lenexa, Olathe and Shawnee, and only around 20 percent of its residents live in De Soto. The common name of De Soto School District, however, does not reflect that. Because of the district’s growth, less and less of the community now lives in De Soto. The district’s history may be rooted in the city, but the De Soto School District is no longer the rural, one-high school district its name brings to mind.

This potential name change comes at an opportune time as well. The district will have a new superintendent July 1, and a new leader from outside the district may be one of the best people to enact new ideas.

While the district needs a new common name, it’s not the end all, be all of unification. If a unified school district is truly the underlying motive, the attempt for unity cannot stop there. Instead, the district must make an effort to unite its parts through events.

This begins at the high school level. Coaches and administrators should encourage sporting events between the two schools to create interaction between them. An art show or choir concert that features both high schools would also help. Past that, holding fun events open to the entire district could further unify the separate communities. However, these are only a few options, and the district would need to make further efforts to achieve unification.

Small efforts to unite the district will have a larger impact than rebranding the district with a new common name. Unity will not come directly from a name change, but rather from changes that the district makes at community and individual levels.

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