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PACE, parts of NMHS to receive new names

Shelton-Mason County Journal of Shelton, Washington

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As the doors open for the new PACE Academy building later this year, a different name will hang above the entrance.

Those familiar with North Mason School District will recognize the alternative high school's new name: James A. Taylor High School.

The North Mason School Board last week voted to approve renaming PACE Academy after the former district teacher.

"He was a distinguished educator who always put students first," wrote Anne Crosby, the high school's principal, in a letter to the school board. "It is both a privilege and an honor to make this recommendation."

Taylor, who taught in the district for more than 40 years, died in June, at age 66.

At the time of his death, he was employed as a teacher at PACE Academy, but also taught at Hawkins Middle School, North Mason High School and Mission Creek Detention Center over the course of his career.

Superintendent Dana Rosenbach said after Taylor died last year, several residents requested PACE Academy be renamed to honor the late teacher.

In November, school district officials hosted a meeting where school board members heard testimony from attendees regarding the name change.

Rosenbach said most attendees were in favor of the change.

"He was a beloved teacher who taught a lot of students in this district," Rosenbach said. "He had a passion for the struggling learner, and always went above and beyond to help them."

Rosenbach said the name change will be official when the new building becomes operational.


During the same meeting Jan. 21, the North Mason School Board also voted to rename parts of the new North Mason High School building as well.

The high school's theater will change to the Toni M. Smith Auditorium, named after former district English teacher who was heavily involved in both high school and community theater.

Smith died in December 2003. She was 57.

According to an obituary published at the time of death, Smith taught primarily at North Mason High School for more than 35 years.

The school board also voted to name the future plaza area for Alfred Snell, who in the 1960s donated the land on which the high school now sits.

Once the current Hawkins Middle School building is torn down, an entryway and flag pavilion will be added to the front of the new high school building.

The park area will be named the Alfred Snell Plaza.

Rosenbach said last year, several people approached district officials with a proposal to rename the high school for Snell.

"We thought that since it's been North Mason High School for 60-plus years, it didn't make sense to change the name," she said. "But we did feel that the district should honor Alfred Snell."

Rosenbach said the plaza will be a park-like area leading up to high school.

Once the landscaping is completed, the district plans to add a memorial stone for Snell, which will detail his dedication to the district.

"It is clear to me that Toni M. Smith and Alfred Snell were special people," wrote Chad Collins, North Mason High School principal, in a letter to the school board. "It is my honor to make this recommendation. I also believe this recommendation allows us to continue Building the Pride in this wonderful community."

Rosenbach said she appreciated the input from the community.

"We're so glad the community took interest in this," she said. "We feel it is important to remember where we've been."

"He had a passion for the struggling learner, and always went above and beyond to help them."

Superintendent Dana Rosenbach about former teacher James Taylor

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Original Publication Date: January 28, 2016

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