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WESTFIELD — The building rising on Franklin Street will be named Westfield River Elementary School, the School Committee voted unanimously on March 4.

The new elementary school’s name was one of three recommended to the committee by Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski. The other two were Franklin Street Elementary School and Whip City Elementary School. Committee members liked how their choice described its physical location — the river is a little over 1,000 feet away — without containing the name “Franklin,” as the school will host a merged community.

Interior spaces are starting to come together at the recently named Westfield River Elementary School being built on Franklin Street.
Reminder Publishing submitted photo

“It gives the identity to the two schools merging together, rather than it just remaining ‘Franklin Street,’” said committee member Kathleen Hillman.

The new elementary school is expected to open in January 2025 and will replace both Franklin Avenue Elementary School and Abner Gibbs Elementary School, both of which will close. The Franklin Avenue campus, adjacent to the new school site, will be reused as fields and parking for the new school.

Ward 2 City Councilor Ralph Figy and Ward 3 City Councilor Bridget Matthews-Kane, who represent the neighborhoods in the new school’s enrollment area, both favored the “Westfield River” name. Czaporowski said the principals of both current schools also reported that majorities in their communities liked it the best.

He said the principals had solicited name ideas from students and families, and forwarded five options to him, from which he picked three recommendations after consulting with the Westfield Historical Commission. The two that didn’t make the final list were Tower Elementary School and Westwood Elementary School.

Westfield School Department policies require new schools to be named for physical locations, not for people, Czaporowski said. Abner Gibbs is the only current Westfield school named directly after a person.

mballway@thereminder.com | + posts