MUSD second high school sign

This sign presented to the Maricopa Unified School District board shows the thought process used by the naming committee for the second high school.

MARICOPA — After a night of brainstorming that never found the right conclusion, the Maricopa Unified School District board decided to move the choice for its second high school’s name to its December meeting.

At the Nov. 10 board meeting, names suggested by the naming committee for the new high school were announced. The board wanted a name that would “stand the test of time.”

The name suggested at the meeting for approval was Sonoran Sunrise High School, though a vote never actually came.

“Nothing says more than opportunity and hope like watching the sunrise every morning,” board member Torri Anderson, said. “I think that it will stand the test of time and I think it has very, very wise meaning to our students.”

MUSD board members gave their own suggestions for the second high school name.

Vice President AnnaMarie Knorr said she had a "slight twist" for the name to consider, Desert Sunrise.

Anderson said there will be other middle and high schools, so they could have desert in the name.

President Ben Owens said it was good to consider pronunciation and syllables. He had one of the naming committee members explain how it would be nice to have just one name in front of the high school to make cheers and other things easier to say.

The board thought about having just Sunrise High School be the name, but there are other schools with names similar to that, such as Sunrise Mountain in Peoria.

Owens also mentioned naming the second high school Sunrise Grove.

Robert Downey, member, said he liked the concept and the word sunrise. He said he's an engineer at heart, so when he heard the name Sunrise, it "struck a bell" and "resonated" with him.

“My thanks goes out to Mrs. Pastor and the committee for identifying values and coming to a consensus on a recommendation for the board,” Superintendent Tracey Lopeman said.

Tracey Pastor, MUSD director of administrative services, said she agreed with the board members’ decision to wait until December since it’s an important thing to consider. The next meeting is “right around the corner,” so it should hopefully give them ample time to choose the name.

Pastor, along with naming committee members such as City Councilman Henry Wade, helped present the second high school names earlier in the meeting.

There were 341 participants in the community survey for the high school names with suggestions including a person, natural landscape, community landmarks and cultural significance.

There were three names in the running back in October. The names weren’t announced to give the naming committee time to decide on the final name for the second high school.

The finalist names for the second high school were Sonoran Sunrise High School, Pecan Groves High School and Vekol High School.

These members wanted to make sure the process was “inclusive and transparent” and they all had “their ideas heard and reflected” upon.

Some themes discussed for the second high school included respecting the Ak-Chin Indian Community, since it might have its own high school and want to name it Ak-Chin, imagery of the natural landscape and its reflection of hope and opportunity, and their concern that “not all the names would stand the test of time as well as others.”

The high school’s mascot also is in suspense for now.


Kimlye Stager covers Maricopa and the surrounding area for PinalCentral, including city, education, business, crime and more. She can be reached at

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