Stacy Danielson selected as namesake for new Leander ISD middle school; upcoming elementary to be called Larkspur

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Leander ISD’s upcoming ninth middle school will be named in honor of Stacy Danielson, who spent her entire teaching career at Cedar Park High School and was the school’s dance director, the board of trustees decided Dec. 13.

“She could see who [students]would become and not just who we were just then, and because of that I know I’m the dance director I am today,” said Madison D’Ortona, the dance director at Manor High School and a former student of Danielson. “This is the testament that she was bigger than a dance studio.”

Danielson died of cancer this summer. Her father, Kirk Lawrence, told the district’s board that when Danielson’s tumor was first discovered, she was concerned about bringing her drill team officers to officer camp the following day.

“That’s just the way Stacy was … she always put her students first,” Lawrence said. “Now we can’t bring Stacy back, but by honoring Stacy by placing her name on a school, I think that would allow Stacy to continue putting her students first.”

The school’s official name will be decided once the district speaks with Danielson’s family about how her name should be presented, such as whether to include a middle name.

Prior to voting 6-0 for the middle school’s name, the LISD board also decided to name Elementary School No. 27 as Larkspur, after the subdivision where the school will be located. Not all students who attend the school will be residents of the Larkspur subdivision.

The decision to go with Larkspur came after failed motions for other names—Nancy Tarvin and Bill Pickett.

Tarvin was the executive director of elementary curriculum for LISD before retiring in 2016. She worked for Leander ISD for 25 years before retiring in 2016. Tarvin died in 2017.

“Nancy had a lot to do with the Leander Way, establishing the way we do things, the way we redesigned the elementary schools, she had a big hand in that,” trustee Grace Barber-Jordan said. “Her work touched all of the children in LISD.”

Pickett was born in the Miller community in western Williamson County, which was settled largely by people who were former slaves, including Pickett’s parents, according to Williamson County Historical Commission records and Frank Stiles, a fourth-generation Leander resident and veterinarian. Pickett was an cowboy who performed across the country and in England, Stiles said.

Larkspur passed 4-1 with trustee Jim MacKay voting against and Barber-Jordan abstaining. Trustee Pam Waggoner was not present at the meeting.

MacKay said after he received community feedback, he gave his word to his constituents that he would vote for the name to honor Tarvin or Carol North, who taught at LISD elementary schools for 22 years and died in 2016.

The board directed staff to look at options for the naming process to possibly revise it in the future.

“I think that we need to re-examine our process, and I think having some type of … community committee that gets together and looks through the submissions and then comes back to the board with a suggestion,” trustee Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia said.

Some board members also expressed interest in considering naming a performing arts center, school libraries or other facilities after significant community members.

Over 5,000 people signed a petition on www.change.org advocating for a future school to be named after Myles Hutcheson as of Dec. 13. Hutcheson was a Vista Ridge High School student who died earlier this month. The results of the petition were presented by a community member during the meeting, but trustees did not discuss the name.

Larkspur Elementary School will open for the 2019-20 school year. The middle school named after Danielson will be across from Glenn High School and is planned to open in 2020.

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Abby Bora
Abby Bora started at Community Impact Newspaper in May 2017. After working as a reporter, she became editor of the Cedar Park-Leander edition in October 2018. She covers Leander ISD and city government. Bora graduated from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. with a bachelor’s degree in media and communications studies.
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