SANTA MONICA—The Santa Monica-Malibu School District has officially named two new schools within their district. “The Michelle and Barack Obama Center for Inquiry and Exploration” is located at 721 Ocean Park Blvd. The second school, which the newly combined elementary school now called “Malibu Elementary School.” The naming took place during a school board meeting on Thursday, May 30.

Staff and parents of students attending Juan Cabrillo Elementary and Point Dume Marine Science School voted to name the newly combined school “Malibu Elementary School.”

About 60 percent of votes made were in favor of the new name of the combined schools. Other possible names for the elementary school that made the top five included: John and Amanda Ballard Elementary School, Malibu Elementary School, Ocean Elementary School, Surfside Elementary School and Westward Elementary School.

The newly appointed Principal Christopher Hertz will work with staff and students in the fall to select the school’s new colors and mascot.

“We are looking forward to moving ahead with the continuing work of program development that will ensure the academic and social-emotional success of every student,” Malibu Pathway Director Isaac Burgess IV, said. “Thank you to parents, staff and the Malibu community for participation in this important process.

The newly renovated facility, located on 721 Ocean Park Boulevard, which will house SMMUSD’s new Project-Based Learning pathway is named “The Michelle and Barack Obama Center for Inquiry and Exploration.”

Community input regarding the decisions to name the new educational facility the Obama Center for Inquiry and Exploration was met with mostly favorable responses. Staff received about 100 responses with many in favor of the name. Respondents that were opposed to the name of the school did not support the former president or felt that the Obama’s lacked a local connection to the school district.

During the board discussion on the naming of the 721 Ocean Park facility, SMMUSD Board Member Ralph Mechur stated:

“Barack and Michelle Obama are icons for the fundamental right to a bright future for all humanity. Our naming the center in their honor is intended to inspire our community and youth to engage in educational excellence for all of our students. Michelle and Barack Obama promote equity, fairness, and equality; healthy individuals and a healthy environment; discourse and collaboration; and respect and support for all. Naming the campus in their honor will signal to the community and our students that we, too, stand with the Obama family in supporting all students in creating their own future in a world of acceptance.”

Maria Leon-Vasquez, a representative on the Santa Monica Malibu Unified Board of Education said to the Santa Monica Daily Press that she is disappointed in her colleges and stated that there was no rush to name the 721 Ocean Park location.