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Rochester School Board announces five finalists for middle school name

The winning name will be announced Sept. 21.

Rochester Public Schools Interim Superintendent Kent Pekel speaks during a beam signing event at the construction site of Rochester Public Schools' new middle school Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, in Northwest Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

The Rochester School Board on Tuesday announced the five finalists for the name of the district's new middle school in the northwest part of the city.

The process began when students were asked to nominate name ideas this past spring. A subcommittee of the School Board then whittled down that larger list to arrive at the five finalists.

According to School Board member Melissa Amundsen, the names had to be based on three criteria points: 1) "reflect the school district's values and beliefs," 2) "represent the diversity within our community" and 3) "instill inspiration in students."

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She said the district is working on a way to allow community members to vote on their favorite name. The voting window will close Sept. 16.


"So stay tuned to our website and our social media," Amundsen said. "Everybody gets one vote."

The winning name will be announced Sept. 21, according to Amundsen. The five finalists, in the order they were announced, include:

Susan B. Anthony

Anthony was a 19th-century civil rights activist who fought for women's suffrage and abolition. According to information from the School Board, a student who nominated the name wrote: "I see a lot of schools named after men in our area so I think a woman's name would be good."


The name Dakota refers to the Native Americans who, according to the district, lived in the Rochester area since "at least the 1600s." The name is also commonly known for its connection to two Midwestern states that also bear the name. It means "friend or ally." A student wrote: "I believe our new middle school should be named this to represent the first settlers of our area."

Martin Luther King Jr.

King was an iconic defender of civil rights in the mid-1900s. Among other accomplishments, he's known as a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, as well as for his "Letter From Birmingham Jail" and his "I Have a Dream" speech. A student wrote: "Martin Luther King was a strong advocate for equality with nonviolence."


One student wrote: "It inspires those attending the school as well as members of the community to create and maintain unity."


Wóksape is an Indigenous word for "wisdom." A student wrote: "It is a tribute to an amazing people that make Minnesota great."

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