AYER — Shortly before graduation, 21 senior members of the Ayer High School track and cross-country teams presented the School Committee with a petition to name the cross-country trail behind the high school for coach Peter McCarron, who retired this year.
The proposal included mounting a carved wooden sign, “to be provided by an interested party,” at the start of the trail. The farewell gesture, the seniors’ petition said, would be particularly apt, because McCarron played a “central role in the re-introduction of Cross Country as a sport” at the school.
They had hoped to present the honor to McCarron at graduation, after he gave his speech.
But when the School Committee discussed the issue at its June 2 meeting, it wasn’t as simple as just saying yes. There’s a policy on the books for naming school facilities, and with graduation just two days away, there wasn’t enough time for the process to play out.
The policy was dusted off a couple of years ago for a similar request to name an athletic field at the school. Among other things, it calls for nominations from the public and for the superintendent of schools to come up with a procedure.
Acting Superintendent George Frost presented his procedure proposal at the June 30 meeting of the School Committee. It calls for:
*A five-member committee, chaired by the athletic director, with other members to include a teacher/coach at the school, a school sports-savvy community member, former student athlete and a district administrator.
* Nominations to be solicited (via website/newspaper, etc.).
* A meeting of the Facilities Naming Committee to review nominations.
* Recommendation to the School Committee.
Nominations for naming the running trail behind the high school will be accepted during July and August, followed by a meeting of the naming committee to consider the input and make a recommendation to the School Committee in September.
The policy, the earlier School Committee said, was necessary because naming a school or any part of it “is an important matter that deserves thoughtful attention.”
Parameters include the significance of a name in relation to the facility. For example, the policy says, schools may appropriately be named for physical locations, geographical areas or local, state and national leaders whose names “will lend dignity and stature” to the school.
The aim of the policy is to defuse “factional pressures” and avoid disappointment through a consistent process.
“Whenever possible, the wishes of the community, including parents and students, should be considered,” the policy states.