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New high school expected to get a name tonight

It may not have a face yet, but soon it may have a name.

Merced Union High School District trustees are expected to name Merced's third high school at tonight's bimonthly meeting at Livingston High School. The meeting begins at 7 p.m.

Possible names may include El Capitan, Exchequer, Gateway or Sierra Vista.

Groundbreaking for the new campus at the southwest corner of G Street and Farmland Avenue in North Merced is scheduled at 3:30 p.m. Monday, said Michael Belluomini, district director of facilities planning.

The $87 million two-story school for 2,000 students is scheduled to open two years from now. Merced now has the Merced and Golden Valley high school campuses.

Superintendent Scott Scambray said 29 names for the new school were submitted by the public by the April 15 deadline. A committee including Scambray, trustees and principals pared the list to the four finalists.

Scambray said proponents of each finalist have been invited to make presentations to the board. He said there has been a high level of participation from the public in the naming process.

For three years, Merced High School was known as El Capitan High School. Belluomini said 229 people favored the El Capitan option.

The Exchequer name was proposed by the Merced Irrigation District after its dam at Lake McClure, and the Gateway name refers to the city's slogan, "Gateway to Yosemite."

The Sierra Vista name refers to the surrounding mountains seen from the future campus.

District policy says schools can be named after geographic locations, regions, concepts and things, but not people -- living or deceased.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or