Contract Based Education, a nontraditional school in the West Valley School District, will have a new name this fall – Dishman Hills High School.
The name change is one that’s been discussed for years. When Cleve Penberthy was still the principal at the school, he suggested they call it “Albert Einstein Academy,” after he read a biography of the famed scientist.
“Albert Einstein was one of my kids,” Penberthy said in an interview with the Voice in 2011. “He was homeless, he refused to go to school and he bounced around Munich, Germany, in the late 1890s. As a 16-year-old, he forged his way out of school, got a note from a doctor saying he was going to have a mental breakdown if he stayed in this public school.” Einstein found a school that was similar to the nontraditional programs of today, he said, and went on to become one of the greatest minds of the 20th century.
For students at CBE, changing the name took on importance lately, after learning Air Force and Navy recruiters generally don’t consider recruits who don’t graduate from “high schools.” Superintendent Gene Sementi said the district is in contact with the Army recruiter to invite them to revisit its listing as a “tier 2” school.
The name change also reflects the programming of the school, which now has very few contract-based classes.
The district has been talking about this name change in earnest since March, when representatives from the students and staff of the school brought three options for a new name to the school board. There was Dishman Hills High School, Crossroads High School and Lilac City High School.
The board wasn’t thrilled about any of these names. In the past, the board loved the name Opportunity High School, which reflected both the location of the school and tells students the school will give them an opportunity to shine. Until recently, the Central Valley School District, which has an Opportunity Elementary School, balked at this name, but lately changed its mind and told West Valley they could use it.
During the most recent survey of students, Dishman Hills still came in with the most votes. Principal Julie Poage said for students, the name “Opportunity” still felt like a name for an alternative school.
“They want a name that represents them well,” Poage told the board.
The school board voted unanimously Wednesday to change the name to Dishman Hills.
Still, there was some debate.
“It’s not in Dishman,” pointed out board member Jim Williams.
“I would say that Mt. Spokane (High School) isn’t on Mount Spokane,” Poage replied.
Poage said implementing the new name will begin immediately and asked the board if the district office would help get the school a new sign. She added there is a plan for an open house to introduce both the programs and the new name to area teachers who may have students who would benefit there.
She also said she would pass the news to Penberthy, who retired in 2011.
Williams asked if on the school’s letterhead they could add “Formerly Contract Based Education” underneath the new name to let people know it is still the same school. It was agreed they would.
“This is a school that’s helped a lot of kids,” Williams said.