A steady stream of residents who attended a town hall gathering Thursday night seemed impressed by plans for a Parrish-area high school but were divided on a name for the new school.
North River High School and Travis Seawright High School were the two leading contenders, based on an unscientific sampling of the crowd that flowed through Buffalo Creek Middle School to look at charts and ask questions.
Seawright was a Parrish resident who served as Manatee County livestock agent for 30 years and worked not only with farmers and ranchers but also with generations of local youths, inspiring many to pursue careers in agriculture. He died in January 2016 at age 76.
Brian and Cassidy Jones were two of those who attended the town hall gathering, and they voted for Travis Seawright High.
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That was the Joneses’ top concern, but they also wanted to make sure that sufficient space is reserved at the 98-acre school site for agriculture, Cassidy Jones said. The property is located at the southeast corner of Erie Road and Martha Road.
The school district received a petition signed by 150 people Monday, lobbying to have the new school named after Seawright, district spokesman Mike Barber said.
But others liked North River as being more inclusive and descriptive of the area.
Alison Page of Palmetto was one of them.
“I like Parrish, but it sounds a little too home-towny,” Page said.
Others were concerned that naming the new school after Parrish would be too confusing. Parrish High School and Palmetto High School might be abbreviated the same, PHS.
Barbarann Roberts and Christine Whidden toured the town hall gathering together and agreed they liked North River High School for the Parrish-area school that is due to be completed by summer of 2019.
“I like the way they are using the land and are going two stories with the buildings,” Roberts said. “I also like the way they have student parking planned.”
But Roberts and Whidden worry that there might not be sidewalks for students who have to walk to school.
Whidden is looking forward to having high school sports played in the Parrish area, rather than having to journey south of the river. “I love high school football,” she said.
Dawn Haushalter also supports the North River name but worries about traffic congestion.
“I am concerned about the traffic pattern because I am familiar with what the other schools go through,” Haushalter said.
The town hall marked the opening of a six-week period for submitting name suggestions for the new school, Barber said.
Suggestions may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to New School Names, Manatee School Support Center, 215 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34205.