The Van Alstyne Independent School District voted to approve the name its new elementary school at a spirited regular meeting on Monday night. The Van Alstyne ISD Naming Committee made suggestions and sorted through more than 168 online submissions from community members. In the end, the Naming Committee narrowed the selection down to a list of seven possible names that met the criteria set forth by the official Van Alstyne Independent School District facility naming policy and settled on naming the facility the Bob and Lola Sanford Elementary School.

The guideline states that district facilities may be named for a person or persons who have served the district or community, especially in service to the children of Van Alstyne. The requirements for VAISD facility names also includes requirements that nominees shall have made significant contributions to the community, education, and perhaps above all, the nominee's name must lend prestige and status to the institution of learning. The Van Alstyne Independent School District facility may also be named for a local, residential or geographical area.

Committee members Julie Johnson, Betty Childress, Byron Whitaker, Tom Smith, Gwen Denton, Paula Benton and Shannon Jackson were assigned no easy task deciding who would be included among the list of names to be identified with the new elementary school to present to the board for approval. The board of trustees tabled the renaming of the existing elementary school and will return to the item after further discussion.

“I like the overall involvement in the community,” trustee David Kerr said. “Neither one of them (the Sanfords) taught, but … sometimes you teach a lot by your actions, by your words, by your leadership, how you help the community all the way around.”

“I know Bob volunteered and was excited about the education foundation,” Kerr said, adding that despite not being a paid employee of Van Alstyne Independent School District, Bob and Lola Sanford left a significant impact upon the community and the children.

“I think they (the Sanfords) do kind of help link that past and present if you will,” Kerr said. “I think that would be a good match for that school, I would be happy with that.”

“We really had a hard job to narrow it down to these,” Childress said. “The younger generation, those names would not mean anything to you but to the community they would.”

In addition to the Sanfords, names recommended by the committee included Margaret Ann Baldwin, W.A. Leafy and Gwen Denton, Charles Williams, Ruth Thornton Spence, Sharron Offill Evans and John and Nelda Partin.

Childress spoke of the merit for every name on the list. One can expect the new name for the current elementary school to be among the choices on the list of names the committee will consider first when naming future facilities.

“Same thing with Bob and Lola,” Childress said, “we all know what they've done for the school for the community and everything. They are long-time citizens and givers in the community.”