Even though school kids had a big hand in suggesting names for Bozeman’s newest elementary school, there’s no Harry Potter, Justin Bieber or Spiderman among the nine finalists.

Instead the 17-member naming committee has chosen names that include famous Montanans, a 20th century American poet, important local women, local landmarks, birds and trees.

Now through May 17, the public can vote online at the Bozeman School District’s website, www.bsd7.org, under the Latest News heading. People can vote only once.

The results will be presented as a recommendation on May 28 to the Bozeman School Board, which has the final say. The school, under construction on Durston Road, is slated to open in August.

“I think there’s a good balance” of important people and important place names, said Robbye Hamburgh, retired Hyalite School principal, who headed the committee. “It was really fun to do this.”

More than 80 names were suggested, mainly by elementary classes and some by community members. The nine names were released after checking with the Montana Historical Society and attempts to contact living relatives of some of the honorees.

The recommended names are:

  • Aspen Elementary School, after the tree.
  • Caroline McGill Elementary School, after the woman doctor who lived from 1879 to 1959 and was Montana’s first pathologist. She helped found the Museum of the Rockies, Montana State University’s College of Nursing, and the 320 Ranch in the Gallatin Canyon.
  • Granite Peak Elementary School, after the tallest peak in Montana.
  • Ida Davis Elementary School, after a woman who was a Gallatin Valley educator for more than 50 years. Davis, who lived from 1879 to 1962, was school superintendent from 1910 to 1918, headed the English and math departments at Gallatin County High School, and was a teacher supervisor at Montana State College from 1930 to 1935.
  • Jeanette Rankin Elementary School, after the first woman ever elected to the U.S. Congress. Rankin, born in Missoula, lived from 1880 to 1973 and was known for voting against American entry into both World Wars I and II, and for helping to pass the 19th Amendment giving all American women the right to vote.
  • Meadowlark Elementary School, after Montana’s state bird, known for its “cheerful call.” It was a runner-up in the popular vote in 2008.
  • Mike Mansfield Elementary School, after the Montana senator known as the longest serving U.S. Senate majority leader (1961 to 1977) and longest serving U.S. ambassador to Japan (1977 to 1988). He served in the Navy, Army and Marine Corps, worked in Butte mines, taught history and political science at the state university in Missoula and was elected to the U.S. House and Senate. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1989 and died in 2001.
  • Robert Frost Elementary School, after the American poet. Known for his realistic depictions of rural life, Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry and recited a poem at President John Kennedy’s inauguration.
  • Spanish Peaks Elementary School, after the oldest peaks in the Madison Range, known for rugged alpine peaks, wildlife, hidden lakes and forests.

The last time a new school name was chosen, the winner was Hyalite, named for the mountain peaks just south of Bozeman. In the 1990s, Emily Dickinson and Morning Star were chosen, the first time Bozeman elementary schools were named for a woman or an Indian chief. Before that, all Bozeman elementary schools had been named for famous American writers – Irving, Longfellow, Hawthorne, Whittier and Emerson.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.

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