GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Union School District is looking for a new name for the Apple Avenue Elementary School and have already received 162 suggestions.
According to Board Policy, the governing board names new schools or individual buildings in recognition of individuals that are living or deceased and have made outstanding contributions to the county or community, statewide, national or worldwide significance. The naming can also recognize a person who is important to the geographic region where the school is located.
The board held its first public hearing for the naming of the new school on May 4 and two names were presented to the board by community members.
Deneen Maggini suggested that the new school be named after her mother, Vikki Banuelos, who recently passed away.
“She worked for Greenfield School District for 32 years,” Maggini said. “She was the morning voice, talking to the school each morning. It was very soothing, welcoming, comforting to parents, teachers, incoming teachers and all the people that she met.”
Maggini said Banuelos was trusted by the students, loyal and encouraged them to get their “education, education, education.” Banuelos also was said to have had a desire to talk to the parents of students who worked in the agricultural fields.
“If we can educate one member from each family or more, they will set the example for their brothers and sisters that it can be done,” Maggini said.
Art Salvagno, former teacher and Board Trustee, wanted to see the honor of naming the new school go to Banuelos as well.
“With her recent passing, Vikki Banuelos has left a legacy of working for over 35 years with the Greenfield Union School District,” Salvagno said. “She has helped countless children and families not only in our schools but also in the Greenfield community at large.”
Banuelos’ name was not the only suggestion made that night. Sgt. Javier Sanchez Jr.’s name was also suggested by his father, Javier Sanchez, and it was supported by the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post.
“He faced difficulties from the beginning, he wore glasses and the kids used to tease him,” Sanchez said. “We always looked for counselors to help us. We were always there for my son and we did all we could.”
Sanchez Jr. continued his educational path, which was rocky with switching schools, before he graduated from Ventana High School.
Through high school, Sanchez Jr. was facing gang members who wanted to recruit him.
Sanchez Jr. decided to enlist in the Army after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.
“What better way is there to recognize and honor a hero than by naming a school after him,” Sanchez said.
Bob Lockwood, Greenfield resident and member of the American Legion and VFW in King City, supported the naming of the school after Sanchez Jr., who paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
“I believe that it would be an honor to have him as a representative of the military population here in Greenfield,” Lockwood said.
Lockwood also had an alternative for the Greenfield Union School District Board Trustees that would include naming the school either Freedom Elementary School or Honor Elementary School and have the colors be the same as the eagle, white, yellow and brown.
The naming of the school will come back to the School Board meeting on May 18, at which time there will be another public hearing beginning at 6:30 p.m.