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Cactus or Couric? Name that school

You might want to try manatee, or Ed McMahon, junior high

By Chuck Cohen / August 10, 2007



A new study has revealed a significant decline in naming public schools after well-known people. More schools are bearing the names of noncontroversial objects, such as cactus, a mountain, or a mesa. In Florida, for instance, five schools are named after George Washington compared with 11 for the manatee.

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To rectify this unfortunate situation (for people), I have compiled a list of possible school names that, while somewhat more polarizing than the manatee, might find a building facade to hang on without inciting riots against school boards.

Warren Buffett School – It just makes common (dollars and) sense to name a school after the wealthiest man in Omaha, Neb., and 99.9 percent of the rest of the world. Even if he just sent a thank you note, it would be more valuable than anything the best looking cactus has to offer.

Yves Saint Laurent School – OK, so he isn't an American. But now that school administrators are trying to make sure their kids dress well, who better to inspire them than Yves-ie? An added benefit is it would probably infuriate Ralph Lauren and Valentino. So as each designer competed to have a school named after himself, the quality of the clothing on students, and, more important, gym teachers, would rise like a Manolo Blahnik heel.

Your Name Goes Here School – It's a great money-making scheme that pro sports teams have used effectively. Now districts could take bids each year on who to name a middle school after. The highest bidder gets a removable plaque – suitable for framing – over the edifice entrance. Prime candidates for this one-year publicity blitz include sagging presidential candidates (Dennis Kucinich are you listening?) and once-famous movie stars (think Ben Affleck).

Dick Cheney School – Would anyone dare cut class? Or be late for geometry or gym?

Ed McMahon School – Everyone can't be a star, so why not honor life's second bananas? This is a school where coming in second is like coming in first. Where a B is as good as an A. "We're No. 2 and we're proud of you," is the school's cheer.

Katie Couric School – With the average age of the nightly newscast viewer hovering in the 60s, networks are scrambling to appeal to a younger audience. Solution: create a Katie Couric elementary school in every state, hooking 6- and 7-year-olds on the CBS News. Katie might even sign off her newscast with the school song, "We're loyal to you Katie Couric. We're true just for you, Katie Couric. Wave Brian good-bye. Tell Charles, don't cry. The mauve and chartreuse love youse, Katie Couric."

I. Lewis Libby Jr. School – Even the best children get in trouble occasionally. So at this school each student not only gets a nickname (Snuggles, Wiggles, and, of course, Little Scooter), they're granted two pardons a semester.

Martha Stewart School – Soooooo neat.

Chuck Cohen School – Hey, Mr. Davies: Now who's laughing at my 10th-grade algebra final?

• Chuck Cohen is a writer in Mill Valley, Calif.

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