By Jessica Creagan
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- The Highlands Elementary School road-side sign may be in place right now, but a new sign with the school's new name will soon take its place.
After last week's Indian River County School Board meeting and unanimous vote, the elementary school will now be known as Indian River Academy.
The move is designed to reinvigorate the school which has been seen as under-performing in recent years, district staff said.
School Principal Dianne Fannin said the name change request reflected a much larger desire from the school staff and community to inspire and encourage the students and parents toward setting and meeting academic goals for the upcoming year.
"We see a lot of powerful things happening in the school and we're proud of those efforts," said Superintendent of Schools Fran Adams.
"We know you are going to reap the benefits academically," she said.
According to district reports, the school in the southern part of Indian River County has received lower grades than other elementary schools in the district for several years, earning an D grade in 2014 and an C grade in 2013. In spite of the scores, the school administration is not giving up and is setting out to make this year different and to show improvement.
"We wanted the name to speak to the transformation," Principal Fannin said.
The word "academy" brings with it the connotation of an emphasis on academics. By setting up that mentality right from the beginning, the school community is setting up good academic goals at this level and pointing them toward goals in higher education, she said.
"We wanted to give parents hope that we were the school family that was going to make college or career dreams happen," Principal Fannin said.
At a recent meeting, parents were overwhelmingly positive about the name change and seemed inspired by the plans the administration presented to improve the school, she said.
By going with "Indian River," the school hopes to further establish a bond with the surrounding community, including the adjacent Indian River Club.
The outpouring of support of the community has been surprising but very welcome and Principal Fannin said she hopes the school will represent their area well.
Claudia Jiminez, school board member, complimented the faculty and staff on their positive attitudes and energetic outlook going into the new school year.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Ms. Jiminez said.
Outgoing Chairwoman Carol Johnson said to her knowledge, the only other elementary school that requested and received a name change in the district was Dodgertown Elementary.
The school was previously called Clemmons Elementary, but was changed to reflect the impact of the Los Angeles Dodgers on the community.
Principal Fannin said the signage to reflect the name change will be ordered soon.
For more information about the Indian River County school district, visit www.indianriverschools.org.