East Helena's new school will be named Prickly Pear Elementary.
School district officials asked people with an interest in East Helena to take a survey and vote for their favorite of three choices: Prickly Pear Elementary, Sleeping Giant Elementary or Creekside Elementary. The school board selected Prickly Pear at a meeting on Monday night.
The school district's Superintendent Ron Whitmoyer said Prickly Pear has been suggested before as a name for a new school in the district and will now be a tribute to East Helena's origins.
“We were originally Prickly Pear Junction instead of East Helena, which was named after the railroad stop,” he said. “We also have the creek right here. It all goes together.”
The new elementary school is the result of a $12 million bond passed in May. The school, built on Dartman Field, will host first and second graders to relieve crowding at Radley and Eastgate. The bond also paid for additional classrooms at East Valley Middle School and updates to the Radley cafeteria.
Whitmoyer said construction of the school is well underway and is slated to be finished in time for the fall 2018 school year. Two classroom wings are standing with a roof, and contractors are working on pouring concrete for the cafeteria and gym.