“We are Pine Island Academy!” declared Amanda Reidl, principal of the district’s newest school, following its official naming Monday, Feb. 9.
The St. Johns County School Board selected the name from five put forth by a special committee at the board’s Feb. 2 workshop meeting. The choice was unanimous.
“I think it’s a great name,” said board chair Patrick Canan prior to the vote. “I’m all for it. It’s the one that seems to fit it from my own perspective.”
The K-8 school is located at 805 Pine Island Road near the extreme southern edge of Nocatee. It is expected to open for the 2021-22 academic year. The charter enrollment would include 826 former Palm Valley Academy students.
Reidl told the School Board that the new school was an “identical replica” of Palm Valley Academy, which should help ease the transition for the students.
“They’re going to know where to go,” she said. “They’ll know where classrooms are. They’ll know where bathrooms are.”
Reidl facilitated a virtual community meeting Jan. 11 to begin the naming process, and 199 people participated. A community survey requesting name and mascot suggestions followed and received 378 responses. A school naming committee met Jan. 20 to narrow down the suggestions. Fifty-seven people participated. On Jan. 25, 90 people attended another community meeting to produce the results.
In addition to the winning name, suggestions presented to the School Board included: Coastal Palms Academy, Coastal Pines Academy, River Valley Academy and Tolomato River Academy.
Pine Island Academy was needed as Palm Valley Academy was over capacity. Though it was designed to accommodate only 1,490 students, enrollment has exceeded 2,000. The new school will help Palm Valley Academy to lower its enrollment to about 1,200.
Students living in the Crosswater Village communities, Coastal Oaks, Tidewater, Snowden Village and along Pine Island Road will attend the new school.
Reidl also told the board that the school colors are purple and gray and that the students themselves would select their mascot.
Top recommendations for mascot are: Cougars, Coyotes, Dolphins, Manatees, Pioneers and Terrapins.