So how did the school informally known as Flat Branch school become Polo Ridge Elementary?
“At the very beginning, people were confused,” said Patricia Riska, principal of Polo Ridge Elementary School on Tom Short Road. “They were like, where did that come from? Now we've had the opportunity to explain it.”
The quick explanation is this: Charlotte-Mecklenburg school names aren't official until the school board signs off on it. And the school board typically chooses one of three names recommended by an advisory committee, made up of the new school's principal and a sampling of students and parents.
In the case of Polo Ridge Elementary, which debuts to its own school population on Aug. 25, the school building actually opened a year ago. The building was used as temporary space for another school, Elon Park Elementary. Green directional signs leading up to the building also called it Elon Park.
Even while this was happening, some still referred to the building as Flat Branch – the name used during the school's construction, and reflective of the park land where the building sits.
So when it came time to pick an official name, Riska said her school advisory committee wanted to go in a different direction. Everyone knew theirs would be one of three schools opening this month in the 28277 ZIP code, and a distinct identity was important.
Riska said the committee considered the name Blakeney Elementary, reflective of the name of the family farmland where retail and housing developments now sit. But the new Ballantyne Elementary, another name made popular by housing and retail, also was opening nearby.
“I thought if we opened Ballantyne and Blakeney at the same time, no one would ever know where they were going,” Riska said.
So Polo Ridge became the advisory committee's top recommendation following an online poll of parents and community members.The name reflects the school land's history of being the site for polo matches. Stables and horses are located across from the school and are still in use, Riska said.
The school board approved the name.
So Elon Park Elementary takes its name with it to its permanent location at 521 District Park, the site of a former residential camp called Elon Homes for Children.
And Polo Ridge Elementary is now, officially, Polo Ridge.