Northshore School District’s School Board selected, approved and announced the name for Elementary #21: Ruby Bridges Elementary at the Dec. 9 board meeting. The board was presented with five names, which the Elementary #21 Naming Committee had winnowed down from the original 11 finalists after considering community, student and committee member feedback. The naming process was completed in accordance with Policy 9250: Facilities Naming, which was approved by the School Board in 2017 and sets clear criteria and guidelines for school names.
In their selection of the school name, the Board acknowledged their desire to honor the Committee’s work and recognized that the name Ruby Bridges resonated with both the community, students and the Committee. Bridges was born Sept. 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi and she became a symbol of the Civil Rights Movement. At age six she was the youngest of a group of African American students to integrate schools in the American South.
Bridges was the eldest of eight children, born into poverty in Mississippi. When she was four years old, her family moved to New Orleans. Two years later a test was given to the city’s African American school children to determine which students could enter all-white schools. Bridges passed the test and was selected for enrollment at the city’s William Frantz Elementary School.
Of the six African American students designated to integrate the school, Bridges was the only one to enroll. On Nov. 14, 1960, her first day, she was escorted to school by four federal marshals. On Bridges’ second day, Barbara Henry, a young teacher from Boston, began to teach her. The two worked together in an otherwise vacant classroom for an entire year. Every day as the marshals escorted Bridges to school, they urged her to keep her eyes forward so that she would not have to see the racist remarks scrawled across signs or the faces of the protesters. Toward the end of the year, the crowds began to thin, and by the following year the school had enrolled several more Black students.
Bridges’ bravery inspired the Norman Rockwell painting, The Problem We All Live With (1964), which depicts the young Bridges walking to school between two sets of marshals, a racial epithet marking the wall behind them. Her memoir, “Through My Eyes,” was released in 1999, the same year that she established the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which used educational initiatives to promote tolerance and unity among school children.
Thank you to students, staff, families and community members who were instrumental in this process. More than 700 name submissions were received, nearly 2900 feedback forms were completed and third and fourth graders at Canyon Creek, Kokanee and Fernwood elementaries provided input in their classrooms via discussion and surveys. Third and fourth graders designated to move to Elementary #21 were also invited to attend focus group meetings with Planning Principal Cathi Davis to share their specific input about naming and learn more about the school.
Thank you Northshore voters who approved the 2018 bond, making this new elementary school possible! Check out the school’s latest construction update.
About Ruby Bridges Elementary
Ruby Bridges Elementary was approved by voters in the 2018 election as a step toward easing the crowding in schools on the District’s north end. The K-5 elementary school will serve approximately 500 students. Currently under construction, it is located on Maltby Road, close to Little Bear Creek Road. The site is also slated to become a shared campus with a new middle school, pending voter approval of a future bond. Learn more…