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Lifelong Learning

New school facilities to carry the names Dorothy Dodds, Horizon and Vista

August 24, 2016

The Moorhead School Board approved the recommendations of the School Naming Task Force to name the new district facilities at the Aug. 22 board meeting.

Names recommended to the board following the collaborative task force process are:

  • New elementary school: Dorothy Dodds Elementary School;
  • Middle school campus: Horizon Middle School West Campus for the grades 5-6 school and Horizon Middle School East Campus for the grades 7-8 school; and
  • Globe building: Vista Center for Education.

Following approval of the $78.2 million bond referendum on Nov. 3, 2015, Moorhead Area Public Schools began the next steps in implementing the district’s facilities master plan, including naming the grades 5-6 school connected to Horizon Middle School and the new K-4 elementary school, both scheduled to open by fall of 2017. Additionally, Red River Area Learning Center and Adult Basic Education moved into their new home in the Globe building this summer. The building, which is being purchased by the district, needed a name.

In a process similar to that used to name schools in 2003, a School Naming Task Force comprised of staff members, students and parent representatives was formed to research and examine options for naming the schools. The 15 members of the district’s School Naming Task Force began meeting June 27, 2016, to determine the process for naming the three district facilities and review name suggestions received through community input in June 2016.

At the beginning of the process, the School Naming Task Force determined guidelines for the consideration of school names. After determining the criteria for the names of the buildings, the task force members discussed the names for each facility and, using a consensus decision-making process, developed its recommendation.

The task force opted to continue the tradition of naming the new elementary school for a local historical figure who is no longer living. Dorothy Dodds Elementary School was selected because:

  • Dorothy Dodds graduated from Moorhead High School in 1941.
  • She taught kindergarten at the Moorhead State Campus School from 1949 until it closed in 1972, and then she taught in Minnesota State University Moorhead’s education department until retiring in 1986.
  • A lifelong educator, Dodds developed the first recognized early childhood education curriculum in Minnesota, was a strong advocate for children, and was a founding member of the former Moorhead Healthy Community Initiative, an organization to provide after-school activities and build assets in Moorhead youth.
  • She was inducted into the Moorhead High School Hall of Honor on Sept. 22, 2012.
  • Dodds died Dec. 11, 2012.

The School Naming Task Force recommended the Horizon Middle School campus be named Horizon Middle School West Campus for the grades 5-6 school and Horizon Middle School East Campus for the grades 7-8 school.

  • The School Naming Task Force determined the criteria that the middle school would be named using a metaphor that includes a description of the direction.
  • The metaphor, horizon, represents the dawn with the sun rising on the horizon just as the middle school students are at the dawn or beginning of the next stage in their education and their lives. The dawn with the sun rising on the horizon illustrates the bright future and all that is ahead of these young students.
  • Middle school is a time when students are expanding their knowledge — or their horizons — by learning and studying a variety of subjects and participating in new activities. Horizon represents the new knowledge and world view to be gained by the students.
  • Horizon also represents the place where students of all backgrounds from four elementary schools will come together. East Campus and West Campus distinguishes the two schools within the Horizon campus without indication of hierarchy.
Finally, the former Globe building will be renamed Vista Center for Education because the task force was looking for a hopeful name that affirms the multicultural and diverse students served by programs in the building.


  • The metaphor, vista, represents the vast, scenic views in Moorhead. It also represents the opportunities students have to expand their views with education.
  • The word “vista” has the same meaning in both English and Spanish, harkening an inclusiveness that welcomes students of all backgrounds.
  • The vista metaphor is aligned with the horizon metaphor for the Horizon Middle School campus.
  • The name suggests a fresh, forward-thinking perspective that is positive and hopeful.

Categorized under: School