Names of Swiss settlers considered for school opening in 2009

Beaverton's newest school - tucked away off of Springville Road - should have a name within a month. And that name most likely will reflect the area it's located or the families who settled there.

On Monday, the Beaverton School Board was presented with possible names for a new kindergarten through eighth-grade school to be built near Kaiser Road on Brugger Road.

Sally Bunnell, the district's unofficial historian who has researched names for numerous schools in the past, passed on six possible suggestions for the school, which will open in September 2009.

Based on her research, Bunnell suggested using one of the following names: Brugger School, Farmstead School, Graf School, Samuel Siegenthaler School, Springville School or Ulrich Gerber School.

'Jacob Brugger and his brothers - and later, expedition leader Samuel Siegenthaler - can be credited with laying the foundations for what became the Bethany community, Ulrich Gerber was one of Bethany's earliest business and civic leaders, and the Graf family's support of Bethany's schools has persisted for several generations,' Bunnell wrote in her report.

Board policies require that school names be associated with the community but can include historical persons, places or events. The policy prohibits naming a school after a person who is still living.

History behind the names Bunnell recommended includes:

n Springville School would honor the area's first major road.

n Farmstead School would commemorate the Bethany farming community.

n Jacob Brugger, Peter Brugger and John Brugger were farmers whose donation land claims date from the 1850s. The Bruggers came to Oregon from Switzerland and were active in the early Bethany Community. John Brugger ran a flour mill; Peter Brugger worked as a sawyer and cut logs into lumber.

n Siegenthaler also came from Switzerland after buying land in the area and paying the travel expenses of families from the country. He also is said to have helped arrange financing for land purchase once the group arrived in Washington County.

n Johann Graf was an itinerant preacher who led churches during his time in Switzerland. When he arrived in the Bethany area, he established one of the area's most successful farms. He also served as a pastor in one of Bethany's two Baptist churches.

n Ulrich Gerber was Bethany's first postmaster, his home located near what's now the intersection of Kaiser and Springville roads. That home became the community's post office, stagecoach stop and general store, according to Bunnell's research. Gerber also organized Bethany Baptist Church.

During public testimony, Dwight Graf supported naming the school for his great, great grandfather, Johann. A petition submitted by the Graf family contained the signatures of 21 residents who also supported the name.

'I'm sure it's a daunting task to name a school and hopefully this will make it easier for you,' said Graf. He said his family still has numerous artifacts related to the early days of the Bethany farming community and hopes some type of partnership between the family, school district and Washington County Historical Society Museum could be formed.

'I believe it's important to honor the people who built the community and not just settled the community,' said Graf.

The district also received 10 school names from area residents including Beverly Cleary School, Tom Hartung School and Pam Allen School. Cleary is a noted children's author who grew up in Portland; Hartung was a legislator and served on the school board; Allen was a principal's secretary at Aloha High School.

The board will decide on a name at its May 12 meeting.

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