Name change for Meadow Creek Christian School

One by one, six students flipped a letter until finally the word
“Legacy” was revealed. Then two other students turned over their large
cue cards to reveal the words “Christian” and “Academy.”

by Eric Hagen
Staff writer

One by one, six students flipped a letter until finally the word “Legacy” was revealed. Then two other students turned over their large cue cards to reveal the words “Christian” and “Academy.”

These eight students had the honor of revealing the new name of Meadow Creek Christian School as Legacy Christian Academy during a May 17 school meeting. The school plans to move to a new site and wants to create a new identity separate from Meadow Creek Church, which governed the school from its formation in 1976 to 2004. Photo by Eric Hagen

With this, the future name of Meadow Creek Christian School (MCCS) was officially announced as Legacy Christian Academy.

The revelation came the evening of May 17 during a school-wide meeting at the neighboring Meadow Creek Church. It has been the desire of the school for some time to come up with a new name that would distinguish itself from its church neighbor of today, which someday may not be next door because the school is looking to re-locate to one of three potential sites.

“I just think it is an opportunity to create our own identity,” said Mike Hageman, who is part of the Hageman Foundation of Hope non-profit organization that governs school decisions. “One of the keys in this whole process will be to continue to celebrate the past, but also embrace the future and how we can continue to be part of the community and grow.”

John Delich helped form MCCS in 1976 and served as the school superintendent for 20 years. He said whether the name is Meadow Creek or Legacy, what happens inside the school has the most impact. He pointed out how St. Paul Bible College changed its name to Crown College when it moved to St. Bonifacius.

Delich personally loves the name Legacy Christian Academy.

“Legacy has to do with what you leave to others,” he said. The school’s legacy, Delich said, is to have a positive Christian impact on the students and provide role models to help students be successful in the future.

MCCS Athletic Director Rick Peterson said the MCCS athletic program has a strong heritage, but he feels this will not be lost just because of a name change.

Debbie Gafner, who has a 10th grade daughter and a fourth grade son at MCCS said the name change is a turning point in the school’s history and she is excited about it.

Zhanna Kotelevskaya, who has a second grade daughter at MCCS, is indifferent to the name change.

Keri Olufson enrolled her children in MCCS not long ago.

“I like that Christian and Academy are in the name and Legacy is a life-long phrase,” she said.

Teresa Compton, who has one son in kindergarten this year and a daughter entering kindergarten next year, also likes the name.

Brenda Thomas has not formulated an opinion on whether or not she likes that the school is changing names, which played a factor in her not voting on a new name. At this time, the mother of two elementary-age kids does not care that the school is changing its name.

Busy summer ahead

A massive undertaking this summer will be to contact the Minnesota State High School League, colleges and universities, opposing schools on the athletic schedules, the state and federal government so tax documents are in order, vendors the school works with, local businesses and many more groups. The name on the school will need to be changed as will the letterhead.

Superintendent Sheldon Johnson said the school has been fund raising for some time to help with these type of purchases.

“It’s a large undertaking,” he said.

The identity discussions are not complete either. Peterson said the school will bring up the Saints nickname to see if any changes should be made. Johnson said the nickname will not necessarily change, but because the school name is changing, the school wanted to explore the possibility.

Most of the team jerseys have the Saints nickname on them and not the school name, so if Legacy Christian Academy takes on the Saints nickname, there will not be the need to buy all new uniforms just because of a name change, Peterson said.

Mike Mignard left Meadow Creek Christian School eight years ago to head the student teaching program at Bethel University. While at MCCS, he was the secondary assistant principal for three years and the dean of students for a little over a decade before that.

Mignard has not talked with anybody still at the school about what has been going on, so he does not have any feelings one way or another about the name of the school changing that his son Ethan graduated from in 2007. He is cognizant about the public relations work ahead for the school though.

“Meadow Creek has a pretty good legacy and is pretty well-known in the community,” Mignard said. “As long as the school can establish itself in the community and identify that it’s the same school, I think it will be fine.”

Why change?

The Meadow Creek church and school are historically linked more than by name and proximity. It was the church congregation that helped build the school, which originally opened in 1976. The church’s deacon board governed the school until 2004 when the school’s parents asked for their own governing board.

Since 2004, there have been discussions of MCCS changing its name to create its own identity as an academic learning institution not directly connected with the church.

To lead the school on the path of continued improvement is the Hageman Foundation of Hope non-profit organization, which replaced the board of trustees as the official school board before the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. The three Hageman family members involved with the governing of the school are Mike Hageman, his father Bob Hageman and his sister Lori Cassady.

The Hageman family has been involved with the school for many years, so Mike Hageman is well aware of the concerns that re-naming the school could mean some lost historical legacy. He said the key objective of Legacy Christian Academy will be to continually honor the rich traditions of people of the past, but he currently does not have all the answers on how this will be executed.

Hageman said the most important aspect of finding the new name was having buy-in from the school community rather than have the separate advisory council and the Hageman Foundation of Hope choose the name.

“We wanted this name to be celebrated by the community and not by an advisory council,” he said.

How name was chosen

Phil Almeroth, who coaches baseball at the school, said considering where they were a year ago, getting the new name chosen is a huge step forward in a positive direction.

At one point, there were 124 names to choose from, according to Johnson, who noted that Legacy was a word that appeared multiple times.

From there, the list was narrowed to four names. The Hageman Foundation of Hope, which serves as the school board, suggested an additional four names to increase the list to eight.

Another school advisory committee chose three names from that list of eight that every member of the school could vote on. Voters could choose their first, second and third choices in an online vote from May 14 to noon on May 17. Of the approximately 650 votes, 64.2 percent stated their first choice was Legacy Christian Academy.

“The process worked,” Johnson said. “People are rallying behind the name. We still have a lot of work to do when it comes to marketing.”

Future school site

A lot of work still needs to be done to figure out whether property the school already owns on the northeast corner of 161st Avenue and Tulip Street in Andover would still be the best future home site of Legacy Christian Academy or whether another one of the two sites the school is exploring would better meet its needs.

Johnson said one issue with the Tulip Street property is that approximately 10 of the 44 acres is buildable land. The rest is wetlands.

Another issue is the vacant property is not serviced by sewer and water at this time, so the school would have to build its own sewer system and drill its own well, Johnson said.

The Tulip site could work, but the school wants to make sure to explore all possibilities, Johnson said.

“We’re keeping our options open to see if there’s a site that’s more viable,” he said.

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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