What’s In A Name: School Edition

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr +

Remember the kerfuffle when the school board voted to close Paris Gibson Middle School, reversing the original decision to close East Middle School? It hit me pretty hard, even as a relative newcomer to Great Falls, because one of my children attended PGMS for grades 6 and 7, and loved the school – as did her friends – but was shuffled over to North Middle School as a result of the closure. I completely understand the reasons behind the decision, and targeting PGMS did make sense in many ways, but it still hurt.
And the kids – aye carumba! Despite what you may have read in the Tribune, many of the “Paris-ites” that were transferred to North were extremely upset about the situation, and my child (and many of her friends) never even gave North a chance; even after finishing 8th grade and moving on to high school, some of them still harbor great resentment towards North. There was something very special about PGMS, and the kids knew it. FWIW, I thought that North was a great school, and I was very impressed with the facility, the staff, and the atmosphere. But many of the kids never accepted it as “their” school.
Which brings me to my point: I wonder if things might have been a little more pleasant, or easier for the kids to handle, if the name “Paris Gibson” had been integrated into the remaining two schools, North and East Middle Schools. After all, PGMS had a very unique name, directly connected to our town’s founding. North and East, however, are merely geographical designations. Perhaps “North Paris Middle School” and “East Gibson Middle School” would have helped the displaced Paris students to accept their new school and surroundings. Such a move would have kept our community’s commitment to the town’s founding father, while also allowing both sets of students to bring at least a small piece of their cherished former school with them.



  1. Son#2 attended PGMS for 6 & 7 as well then was transfered to EMS. He hated the first few weeks but got over it by Christmas. I think it was because all his teachers moved with him.
    OK- What do you have against the names of things here? LOL
    Once upon a time there was a “West” as well. (It became a elementary school in one of the other rounds of school closings)
    I think PGMS (or PG jr high as I knew it when I attended it) sounds better than “south”.

  2. I was part of the last classes at Franklin and the first at West Elementary. As I remember, I was pretty upset about the move but had completely forggen about it by the second year.

  3. I know what your kids are going through. I was supposed to go to West Jr High like my Mom and my older cousins before me. (I knew West’ fight song when I was in kindergarten.) I never really accepted North. Still don’t know the words to any of their school songs. Sorry, still a sore point to this day.

  4. I went to Paris years ago, but I thought they closed the building briefly in the 80’s and then reopened it. We were originally the Paris Gibson Pioneers…I was so glad when they changed it to the Paris Panthers. It was so much fun being a cheerleader routing for the mighty Pioneers…doesn’t that just make you shake in your boots? My husband and both kids went to East…youngest was there last year for the merge. They might as well have changed the name to Paris Gibson…they didn’t keep many of East’s traditions…just the building.

  5. You’re right BB- they only kept the building…most of the Paris teachers and administration moved to East as well.
    For some reason the GFPS likes to link the old name with the new use or school- i.e. West Elementary, Skyline Center. I’m sure if they find a complete use for the PG building it will become the PG center or PG autocenter.

  6. I was traveling back in time….surfing the web…and trying to retrace my childhood schools. When my father was transferred to Malmstrom AFB in in 1960 my first school was West Jr. High . There doesn’t seem to be any information about it…or whether it even still exists…Just wondered if anyone here might know..
    Arlington, TX

  7. This is all so interesting. I was looking for some photos to put in a presentation to our Tech Services folks here in NISD, San Antonio, and I googled my birthplace and then started to look for information about West Junior High. I went to West Junior High for 1 year, 1963. I recall when Kennedy was shot it was announced by my English teacher, shortly after lunch. And I can still recall students in the hallways, in tears. I will never forget that day and West Junior High.
    San Antonio, Tx

  8. we need to stop all of these fights that are going on the school. to many in the high schools and more to come stayin touch

%d bloggers like this: