OCOEE The next time you drive by Clarcona Elementary School, you’ll notice the words “Prairie Lake Elementary School” on the side of the building.
In the summer of 2013, Clarcona Elementary School moved from its former location on Damon Road to its current location at 8723 Hackney Prairie Road.
At first, the school site was to be a temporary home for Clarcona Elementary, but after two years passed, Principal Robert Strenth discussed with the Parent-Teacher Association and School Advisory Council the desire to stay at the site and how to make the school better reflect the neighborhood.
“When it started to look like we’d be able to stay rather than going back, that’s where the push came to, ‘Let’s make this school our school,’” Strenth said.
The SAC and the PTA began to solicit ideas for a new name to better reflect the neighborhood. Most parents said that they supported a name change, and Prairie Lake, Hackney Prairie and Northwest all were proposed names.
The parents selected Prairie Lake, which is the name of a nearby park.
“It’s something our students are familiar with, not only at school but also in the neighborhood,” Strenth said.
The name change became official when the Orange County School Board approved it in January.
Students also voted on a new mascot. Out of the Panthers, Pioneers and Owls, they overwhelmingly selected the Panthers. The school’s colors are now purple, black and gold.
The new location offers some advantages, Strenth said. More students are able to walk to school, and the school has been able to offer more after-school activities for students and their families. The school now has nearly 15 different clubs, including a new chess club.
“It’s important to me and to my teachers and my staff to have that identification with the school, that there’s more here than just, ‘Come into the classroom, do my classwork and leave,’” Strenth said.
Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected].