School Board approves naming of North Star Elementary

At the December 13, 2021 Regular Meeting, the White Bear Lake Area School Board approved the name North Star Elementary for the new elementary school in Hugo. The building, part of the district’s comprehensive facilities plan funded by the community’s support of the 2019 bond referendum, will open in Fall of 2022 and will serve students in grades kindergarten through fifth grade in the northern part of the district.

The naming process took place during the fall of 2021, with the New Elementary School Naming Task Force first meeting in September. Input was solicited from the community, with more than 80 recommendations of potential names being submitted. The committee divided the names into seven categories and whittled the names down to three possibilities, out of which North Star Elementary was chosen.

Principal Dan Schmidt, who will serve as the school’s principal when it opens in the fall of 2022, outlined several reasons behind the choice of the name. “North Star is a positive name that mirrors the school’s location in the district. It is an orienting star in the Northern Hemisphere that is inspiring and uplifting,” he said. Schmidt also noted the historical significance of the star, providing examples of the directional guidance used by slaves and the importance of the star to some Indigenous communities.

The North Star’s relation to nature was listed as another strong tie to the school’s name, as natural elements have been worked into the design of the new building to take advantage of the large natural setting the school is built within. Schmidt also provided a fun astronomy fact that was considered as the option was chosen, noting that the North Star is part of the Little Dipper, which is also known as Little Bear.

At the meeting, Principal Schmidt shared that North Star Elementary was submitted through the community input process by White Bear Area High School graduate Becky Butters-Levahn, who is a parent in the district and a special education teacher at Lincoln Elementary.

Construction continues on North Star Elementary, located on Highway 61, north of the Hugo Post Office. The project is scheduled to be finished before the 2022-23 school year. The community will be invited in to tour the new building later this summer when the elementary school is completed.

Updates on the North Star building project, along with other construction projects throughout the district, can be found at the district website, directly at www.isd624.org/BuildingOurFuture.