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Las Vegans selected for namesake schools

Four people have been selected to have local elementary schools named after them:

• Ruby Duncan, a community organizer invited to the White House by President Jimmy Carter;

• Shirley and Bill Wallin, married educators with distinguished careers;

• Evelyn Stuckey, the originator of the Rhythmettes girls’ drill team.

The new schools do not have locations yet and won’t open until 2010-11, but the Clark County School Board went ahead and approved their names Thursday based on the recommendations of the School Naming Committee.

According to nomination information, one school namesake, Ruby Duncan, had humble beginnings. She was an orphan by age 4 and a high school dropout, but became an advocate for needy children and started “Operation Life,” an anti-poverty organization managed by low-income women.

Bill Wallin started as a fourth-grade teacher and became a principal at Ruby Thomas and Pat Diskin elementary schools. He was also a grant writer responsible for securing school funding.

His wife, Shirley, was a science teacher who became a professional mentor and designed curriculum materials.

Stuckey became a physical education teacher at Las Vegas High School in 1948. She was inspired by the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in New York to create a local girls’ drill team called the Rhythmettes.

The team became so famous they made appearances on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and the “Wide World of Sports.”

The School Board also approved names for facilities. A new greenhouse at Helen Stewart School, 2375 E. Viking Road, will be named for its donors, Jack and Fay Ross.

The school library at Richard Priest Elementary, 4150 Fuselier Drive in North Las Vegas, will be called “Pearls of Wisdom” after Pearl Priest, the wife of school namesake Richard Priest. She also was a long-time school volunteer and librarian.

The School Board approved names for the Southwest Career and Technical Academy, 7050 W. Shelbourne Ave., which will open in fall 2009; West Career and Technical Academy to be located near Charleston Boulevard and Desert Foothills Drive, to open in fall 2010-11; and Sunrise Mountain High School near the intersection of Carey Avenue and Los Feliz Street, which will open in 2009-10.

Contact reporter James Haug at jhaug @reviewjournal.com or 702-799-2922.

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