Spokane Public Schools To Name Three New Middle Schools

May 24, 2021

Pauline Flett, a Spokane Tribe member, preserved the Salish language and played an integral role in transcribing it. She is one of several people the school is considering naming a middle school after.

On Wednesday the Spokane Public School Board will choose names for three new middle schools.

The School Board will choose between the names of several civil rights icons, historical figures and community leaders.

The names were chosen out of nearly 1,500 submissions, according to Spokane Public Schools documents.

The options for the new Northeast middle school are Beacon Pines, Denny Yasuhara and Frances Scott.

Beacon Pines is a nod to Spokane’s Beacon Tower, which sits atop of a hill and was used by earlier aviators before radar was invented. It could be seen from 150 miles away.

Denny Yasuhara was both a civil rights leader, and a Garry Middle School teacher. He endured discrimination as a child during World War II, was an advocate for the Japanese community in Spokane.

Frances Scott was Spokane’s first female African American attorney and a teacher at Rogers High School. She practiced civil rights law while teaching.

The options for the Northwest Middle School include Breckenridge, Pauline Flett and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Eugene Breckenridge was the first African American teacher at Spokane Public Schools. Breckenridge was a WWII Army veteran and received multiple honors during his teaching career.

Pauline Flett was an elder in the Spokane Tribe who was instrumental to preserving the Salish language, she was one of the first to use a written alphabet to transcribe the language, and was involved in efforts to teach Salish for many years.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a Supreme Court Justice and a renowned advocate for women’s rights.

The name options for the south Spokane middle school include Carla Peperzak, John Oakley and York.

Carla Peperzak was a Holocaust freedom fighter during WWII who helped save many Jewish people from concentration camps. She moved to Spokane in 2004 and now educates students about the holocaust.

She is the only candidate who is still alive.

John Oakley was a school board member, a coach, and taught at the school district for 36 years.

York was a member of the Corps of Discovery, the group that accompanied Lewis and Clark when they explored the region. He was the first African American to cross North America. York was enslaved to William Clark.

The school board will decide during their regular 7 p.m. meeting. The community can attend online, or can register to attend in person at the school district’s website.