“Summit Hill Elementary” – School Board selects name of new school

It took two minutes and 58 seconds for the Howe ISD School Board to discuss and act upon a name for the new primary school. The result was “Summit Hill Elementary School.” Much of the near three minutes was silence as board members seemed to distance themselves from the naming of the new location located near the new Summit Hill development west of US Highway 75.

“I’m going to pass on this one because this is a community and a board decision,” Superintendent Kevin Wilson told the board.

Board member Janie Finney made the first request of Summit Hill School with Clint Catching suggesting using the term “Elementary” in the name. Board member Mark Abner asked about putting together a committee which Wilson said was an option, but he stated a determination from the committee would need to be made by the February school board meeting.

Finney then requested that the board go with “Summit Elementary” rather than Summit Hill Elementary which prompted Board President Greg Akins to say that he preferred Summit Hill Elementary due to its location.

Akins then asked the board members whether they wanted to appoint a committee or to go ahead and name the building. After a long pause, board member Brad Anderson made a motion to name it Summit Hill Elementary. Josh Vincent second the motion and the motion went unopposed.

At no time during the discussion was it brought up to name the building after someone. Only Freddy Holcomb and J.W. Hall were present audience members outside of the reporter. None made comments during the discussion which was not open for public discussion.

Those on social media after learning of the name suggested that perhaps more time could have been put into something with such significance.

One member that was present in the audience thought that the school should have at least held discussions to honor former Howe ISD educators and administrators such as Wyline Pool, Arthur Boyle, or Steve Simmons.

The ISD has made it well known that their position at this time is to not name buildings after people. In fact, the ISD has only twice named buildings and each time was in honor of a superintendent. Charles R. Thompson Gymnasium was named in honor of the longtime superintendent in the 1970s and the high school library is named in honor of Dr. Wayne King.

Howe has had one other school not carrying the name Howe. It was the Marshall-Bean College (which was not a college, but a school) located at the present site of the administration office. It was named for the two donors of the property, W.H. Bean and Captain Marshall.

Soon afterward, a former Howe Student Matthew Mariano put together a petition to name it “Steve Simmons Elementary”. The petition received over 500 signatures in less than 24 hours.

Steve Simmons was inducted to the Howe Hall of Honor by the Howe Area Chamber of Commerce (selected by the community). His plaque reads: Steve Simmons came to Howe in 1987 as a coach for Howe ISD. His motivating nature has inspired a couple of thousand kids and adults to be highly motivated, truly dedicated as well as rough and tough. Perhaps no one in Howe’s history has held so much pride and love for their community and the children of Howe. He served as the elementary physical education instructor for Howe ISD for 31 years. As well as his work with children, he’s also been a varsity football, powerlifting and baseball coach and junior varsity basketball coach. As a longtime member of First Baptist Church in Howe, his faith is unquenchable. It is only a matter of time before something in this town is named Steve Simmons something.

Steve Simmons at the 2013 Howe Community Pep Rally. Photo by Monte Walker