Renamed Tumwater Middle School honors Chinuk Wawa language

Education

The Beaverton School Board decided on the name at its Tuesday, Feb. 22 meeting

A rendering of the Beaverton School District’s new middle school. The Beaverton School Board named the school Tumwater in its last meeting. (Courtesy of Beaverton School District)

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — The Beaverton School Board has selected a name for a new middle school located in the Cedar Mill area.

On Monday, Feb. 22, the board unanimously decided on the name Tumwater Middle School for the school located on Northwest 118th Avenue, which has been previously referred to as Timberland.

The district solicited input from the overall community, including a Native American parent group and various tribal partners, according to Beaverton School District spokesperson Shellie Bailey-Shah.

Tumwater means “waterfall” in the Chinuk Wawa language. The language, also called Shawash-Wawa, originated at the mouth of the Columbia and spread throughout the Pacific Northwest, according to Lane Community College. It served as a language of exchange and trade for tribal and non-tribal people.

Other names, such as Tumchuck, Cedar Falls and Timberland, were also considered by the board. Despite students favoring the name Timberland, the School Board decided to go another route.

“The gift we have been given is that we have a rich heritage right in our backyard, and we have the falls right in our backyard, and we have a strong history with our first Americans — our Native Americans — and this will give us time to explore that (and) educate,” said Beaverton School Board Chair Becky Tymchuk. “Timberland is easy, but we are naming a school for 150 years. What a story we are going to be able to say that we took our roots, our heritage, something that is so important to the Tualatin Valley and our first Americans and honoring that. This is not an opportunity we get very often in our school district.”

Tymchuk added that there will still be an opportunity for students to give input through a mascot and other details of the middle school.

School Board member Anne Bryan agreed with Tymchuk’s reasoning for the name. Bryan says she remembers when Westview High School was named after a development, which was similar to what was being advocated for naming the middle school Timberland.

“I strongly support the recommendation,” Bryan said. “I believe that it will help our students to honor our history, and also look forward as a community that we want to be and how do we best reinforce that?”

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