Education

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July 09, 2003 1 min read
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Honoring a Senator

The name change for Saturn River Front Academy is official, and the Minnesota elementary school appears to be wasting no time making that fact known.

An Internet search for the 500-student school in St. Paul already yields a revamped Web page that greets visitors with the message, “Welcome to Paul and Sheila Wellstone Elementary School.”

And a phone call to Saturn River Front is greeted with a voice-mail message that thanks the caller for phoning the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Elementary School.

The school won the honor last month of being the first in the state to be named for Mr. Wellstone, the late U.S. senator, and his wife, who died with their daughter in a plane crash in northern Minnesota during the Democrat’s re-election campaign last fall.

“Our school is in an exciting state of new beginnings,” Principal Raymond Yu said in a statement. “In addition to changing our name, we are changing from a kindergarten through 8th grade school to a pre-K through 6th grade school. We feel that these fresh starts will create an energy that will help us sharpen our focus and inspire students and staff to reach greater heights.”

The St. Paul school board voted unanimously to rename the school after it was chosen from among three finalists by a committee that included the Wellstones’ son, Mark, a St. Paul high school teacher.

“When we visited the school, we saw the staff’s enthusiasm for meeting the challenge to improve the future for the school’s students,” Mark Wellstone said in a press release last month. “I believe that my parents would be pleased to have their names on a school that provides a challenging and exciting environment for children.”

About 85 percent of the students at the new Wellstone Elementary School are members of minority groups, half are English-language learners, and nearly 90 percent receive federally financed free or reduced-priced lunches.

A Minneapolis high school for immigrants became the second Minnesota school to be named after Sen. Wellstone on June 26, when the Minneapolis school board voted to change the name of the International Center for Accelerated Language Learning to Wellstone International High School.

The school serves immigrant students between the ages of 17 and 21, most of whom had little or no previous education.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

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