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 Artist rendering of the front of the new D60 K-8 Expeditionary SchoolIn the Fall of 2023, a K-8 Expeditionary School is slated to open on the 14-acre campus of the former Heroes K-8 Academy, once known as Freed Middle School.

On Tuesday, the D60 Board of Education was presented with three names for this new educational institution.

Formulated with input from the community through a survey, and finalized by a 20-member stakeholder committee, the three names are the Nettie S. Freed Expeditionary K-8, Steel City Expeditionary K-8, and Pioneer Expeditionary K-8.

Although this magnet school will eventually host scholars from Kindergarten through the 8th grade, it will open as a K-6 institution.

As the board learned from Assistant Superintendent Suzanne Morey, an expeditionary educational model centers around exploratory, hands-on active learning and community culture.

In addition to field trips and appearances by guest speakers, Career and Technical Education pathways will be paramount.

In the sixth grade, the CTE options will include Criminal Justice and Law, Public Safety, and Cyber Security; in the seventh grade, scholars will have access to Health Sciences, with Hospitality, Food Service Industries and Business Marketing projected for eighth-graders.

The naming committee – co-chaired by Assistant Superintendent Morey and D60 Educator Tonya Martinez -- met two times to ultimately select succinct and memorable names that descriptively represent the District and the community of Pueblo. 

One of the parameters of the naming process dictated that if the school is to be named for an individual, he or she must be deceased for five or more years.

Brian Calhoun, representing RTA Architects, told the Board the new school will be able to host more than 665 students. He also gave an overview of the interior and exterior features of the new school.

Dalton Sprouse, the District’s Director of Communications, presented each proposed school name and its merits.

“As you may be aware, the new school will be built on the campus that once hosted Freed Middle School, later known as Heroes K-8 Academy,” Mr. Sprouse began. “Nettie S. Freed was a pioneer in education, serving as the District’s first female Superintendent before being elected Colorado's first commissioner of public education.”

This choice was the most popular among community members who took part in the naming survey. Respondents said they believe that naming the school in honor of Nettie Freed pays tribute to not only the District’s legacy and core values, but the history of Pueblo and Colorado as well. 

Aerial View of the new D60 K-8 Expeditionary SchoolAs the property on which the new school will be built has become synonymous with the name Freed, bestowing the new school with this name would not only reaffirm a tradition that dates back to 1954 but set the tone for the future of a beloved neighborhood school that served as a feeder for Centennial for decades.

“This choice combines nostalgia and history with the future of education: in this instance, expeditionary, hands-on learning,” Mr. Sprouse added.

In addition to being known as the Home of Heroes, Pueblo is the Steel City: an illustrative name that reflects a long history of not only steelmaking but the resilience and strength of the people who call the city home.

“As the Steel City Expeditionary K-8, the school would pay homage to Pueblo, its people and both its past and future, as the Evraz steel plant continues to expand and diversify,” Mr. Sprouse told the Board. “This name has a host of positive connotations, as it represents not only the city’s key industry – which reflects the CTE nature of the school -- but the enduring resilience of Puebloans and the solid work ethic for which they are known.

“Just as the steel industry gave Pueblo its roots, so too can the District’s first expeditionary school forge strong learners in a neighborhood that has long supported both Freed Middle School and Heroes K-8 Academy.”

The name Steel City Expeditionary K-8 would positively reflect the diversity of the community as a whole as well as the student population who will learn there, the Board was told.

As the District is forging a new path with this expeditionary school, the name Pioneer Expeditionary K-8 would reflect this trail-blazing effort while acknowledging the fact that the property is adjacent to the historic Pioneer Cemetery: the resting place of many groundbreakers and innovators.

It’s expected that the new expeditionary school will serve a diverse population, mirroring those now resting in the Pioneer Cemetery. From many countries and backgrounds, those pioneers came to Pueblo to establish a bright future for themselves and generations to come. Now, that pioneering spirit will be carried on by the scholars and educators of the school.

“Another word for pioneer is an expeditioner: by definition, a person or group who undertake journey or voyage for a particular purpose, such as exploration or scientific research,” Mr. Sprouse noted. “This ties in neatly with the expeditionary nature of the new school, which will challenge scholars to explore, research and embrace new worlds.

“These new pioneers will forge their own futures in the shadow of the giants who came before, now resting in peace overlooking the expansive campus.”

The Board is now tasked with choosing a name from the three finalists: a decision expected to be made during a future meeting and before the March-April groundbreaking of the school.