SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — It’s not often elementary school children get to select their school colors, motto and mascot.

But the pupils at Sasebo Elementary School will be involved in doing just that.

Ernest J. King Unit School split this summer to form Sasebo Elementary School and E.J. King High School.

“We are not so much a ‘new school,’ as a school with a new identity,” said Christy Blevins, the first Sasebo Elementary principal.

Blevins is a 28-year veteran educator who comes to Sasebo from Yokosuka’s Ikego School for kindergarten through third grade.

The new elementary school will house up to 250 pupils from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.

Seventh through 12th grades will comprise E.J. King High School.

Until the end of the 2002-03 school year, E.J. King was designated a “unit” school, with all grades housed in one school.

“Now, the elementary pupils won’t have to feel like they are just ‘the little kids who go to E.J. King,’ but rather pupils of Sasebo Elementary School, with their own sense of pride,” Blevins said. “That’s how it feels here.”

Sasebo Elementary will have 22 instructors, eight support staff and three clerical employees, Blevins said.

E.J. King, located in the main base housing sector at Sasebo Naval Base, has four classroom buildings and a gymnasium.

Linda Connelly, formerly the principal of the unit school and now the high school, said the main school building will be used by pre-kindergarten through third-grade classes, and the adjacent two-story building will house the seventh and eighth grades, along with the cafeteria.

The library will remain in the three-story facility behind the main building, along with middle and high school classes, special classes and laboratories.

In the four-story building across the street, the second floor is reserved for the fourth-grade and one third-grade class.

The third floor is slated for the fifth and sixth grades, and the fourth floor for middle and high school classes.

Students will be involved in selecting a new mascot, motto and school colors this fall, Blevins said.

E.J. King High School’s mascot will remain the Cobras, and it will maintain red and black as school colors.

Jack N. Darby Elementary School’s mascot is the Dolphins, with blue and white school colors. Darby is located in Hario Housing Village.

“Well, we won’t be the Cobras anymore, and we certainly won’t be the Dolphins,” Blevins said. “We hope to name a mascot that has something to do with this area and the Navy.”

Connelly said early this summer the changes will be beneficial for students.

Both the School Advisory Committee and the Parent Teacher Organization “thought this was a good thing,” she said. “The staff overwhelmingly thought this would be a positive thing for kids.”

Splitting E.J. King Unit School results in expanded specialist curricular time for elementary students and additional course offerings for middle and high school students, she said. It also results in more staff slots for the elementary school, including a principal, second librarian and second school nurse.

“I think this is a very good idea,” said Connita Hill, Parent Teacher Organization secretary and mother of three students ranging from the sixth to the 10th grades, shortly after the split was announced. “The little kids in the elementary school will feel more like they have their own identity.”

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