SAN RAMON -- There's a fine art to choosing the perfect name for a school.

And for four weeks, online suggestions kept rolling in from San Ramon Valley parents, teachers and the community, all excited at the prospect of being a part of school-naming history.

Hundreds of people let their creative energies flow in the hunt for a moniker for Dougherty Valley's newest elementary school, scheduled to open in fall 2016.

A fan suggested Beyoncé Elementary School. And a proposal for the Chuck Norris Institute of Learning won 10 votes for the craggy-faced action hero. A music fan even suggested One Direction School.

Others were a little more traditional and wanted to pay tribute to time-honored heroes: Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela and Mohandas K. Gandhi.

But San Ramon Valley school trustees will have the final say and will pick a name from a pared down list at their meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

The public chimed in with more than 600 names, including some inspired by the arts, like Leonardo da Vinci, Robert Frost and Eugene O'Neill -- or even Silicon Valley wizards, like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs.


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Others gave the nod to more modern-day national heroes with local ties, such as Capt. Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, the pilot and Danville resident who heroically landed a jet in the Hudson River and saved 155 lives in January 2009. He received 13 votes. And Thomas Burnett, a San Ramon resident who, with other passengers, helped storm the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2001, foiling the hijackers' plan and diverting the plane instead to a crash landing in a Pennsylvania field. He inspired 21 votes.

At times, the suggestions did get a bit zany and silly, admitted school district spokesman Terry Koehne, who was on the nine-member school naming committee that winnowed down the top contenders to three. A surprising number of people, for instance, (seven, in fact), voted for the school to be named Hogwarts Elementary, a la Harry Potter, saying it would make the school famous. While still others threw out ideas like The Twerk and Snoopy Elementary.

And some names were quite naughty, even outrageously inappropriate -- not acceptable for print.

But in the end, the committee worked in an efficient and streamlined process, Koehne said.

"Some of them were pretty easy cross-offs, quite a few actually," he said with a laugh.

And one of the marching orders from the district made things even easier: there was to be no naming of a school after a person -- breaking from the district's precedent of naming schools after celebrities like Walt Disney and astronaut Neil Armstrong.

The reason? So that no embarrassing personal tidbits about that person's history comes back to haunt them -- or the school. After all, the goal is for the school's name to stand the test of time. So after scads of careful consideration, the committee is set on three names, decidedly more safe: Its top choice, Bella Vista Elementary, with two alternates: Fox Hollow and Deer Ridge.

Sure, it took a bit of the fun out of the process, perhaps.

But it also makes a lot of sense, said San Ramon Valley Education Association president, Ann Katzburg, also on the naming committee.

After all, "you're thinking about the vision of what you want in the school," she said. "You want to make sure that you pick a beautiful name. A name carries a lot."

The school board will meet at district offices, 699 Old Orchard Drive, Danville.

Contact Joyce Tsai at 925-847-2123. Follow her at Twitter.com/joycetsainews.