Board names new school after Holton

Published 5:18 pm Monday, August 27, 2012

Austin’s newest school has a name, unofficially.

The Austin Public School Board voted 6-0 Monday, with board member Kathy Green abstaining, to name the fifth- and sixth-grade middle school after I.J. Holton, former President and CEO of Hormel Foods Corp. who died in April.

Holton’s name was one of five selected by a committee from public submissions. The committee submitted those names to the board earlier this month.

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At one point, the board looked to accept a new name altogether. Green advocated to call the new school Legacy, after an idea board member Angie Goetz had earlier this year. The idea, according to Green and Goetz, would be to honor notable Austin residents, landmarks, and people with connections to the town wherever possible, whether it be a QR-code wall with information or incorporating Austin residents into the school curriculum. That way, the school serves as an inspiration to students and community members while acting as a reminder of Austin accomplishments.

“Legacy speaks to the past, it speaks to the present, and it speaks to the future,” Green said.

While board member Greg Larson supported the idea of honoring Austin residents, other board members were unsure whether the project should be associated with a new school name.

“To me, that’s a separate issue,” board chairman Jeff Kritzer said.

In the first round of voting, Kritzer, Larson and Aaron Keenan voted for Holton while Goetz and Green voted for Legacy. Board members Don Fox and Dick Lees voted to for Evergreen Farm.

Since Holton received more votes than the other ideas, which had tied, the board voted the name through on a roll-call.

“That was my first choice because [Holton] was a supporter of education,” Kritzer said, citing Holton’s love and support for education as well as his humility.

“He was just a great example of someone who was a great leader as well as very humble,” Kritzer said.

The board will give 90 days for the public to comment on the name choice before making Holton School official at its December meeting. Board members refrained from deciding whether the school should be an intermediate or middle school at this meeting, and district officials say the board will consider the topic at another special session leading up to the December meeting.