Leander ISD’s newest middle school will be named for longtime Cedar Park High School teacher and dance instructor Stacy Danielson after a unanimous vote of the district’s board of trustees on Dec. 13.
Danielson spent her entire 17-year teaching career at Cedar Park High School and passed away over the summer after a two-year battle with cancer.
The board’s 6-0 vote to name the district’s ninth middle school after Danielson came after four people spoke publicly in support of Danielson being chosen as the school’s namesake. A total of seven names were under consideration.
Danielson’s father, Kirk Lawrence, was one of those who addressed the board.
“We can’t bring Stacy back, but by honoring Stacy by placing her name on a school, I think that would allow Stacy to continue putting her students first,” Lawrence said.
The official name will be decided after further discussions with Danielson’s family, including whether her middle name, Kaye, should be part of the school’s name.
At the same Dec. 13 meeting, trustees voted to name the district’s upcoming 27th elementary school Larkspur Elementary, which is the name of the subdivision where the school will be located.
A number of names were submitted to the board, including longtime LISD employee Nancy Tarvin and Bill Pickett, who was a traveling cowboy who went on to become a significant African American historical figure in Williamson County. Fred Rogers, television’s iconic “Mr. Rogers,” was also submitted as a possible name for the new elementary school.
The board voted 4-2 in favor of naming the school Larkspur Elementary, with Jim MacKay voting against and Grace Barber-Jordan voting against. Trustee Pam Waggoner did not attend the meeting.
One name that wasn’t on the agenda for the board’s consideration was that of former Vista Ridge High School student Myles Hutcheson, who passed away on Dec. 3 as the result of a car accident near the school.
More than 6,300 people have signed an online petition in support of naming a school after the Hutcheson. A member of the community presented the petition, which at the time had collected more than 5,000 signatures, but the board didn’t consider Hutcheson in the naming process at the Dec. 13 meeting.
Trustee Trish Bode said, “There are so many people who have impacted so many lives. It’s can be extremely difficult selecting a name for a school. It’s a hard decision always.”
Bode said the board asked the district’s administration for other naming opportunities, to find ways to recognize and honor the memory of other people who have positively influenced the district and community.
“I think we need to come up with a way to honor all our students and teachers who pass,” said Trustee Pam Waggoner. “I believe one of the board members have suggested a memorial at Tew Pac Center. I believe this is the direction we should go. There are too many exceptional students and teachers to try to name a school after each. We will find a better way to honor all of them.”
Larkspur Elementary is slated to open next fall and Danielson Middle School the following year.
“We appreciate our community’s involvement in the school naming process,” Trustee Elexis Grimes said. “As a fast-growth district slated to open five new schools in the next five years, the board is fortunate to have an engaged community from which to draw suggestions.”
Lynette Haaland contributed to this report.