News

Woodside School says Sellman Auditorium will get a new name

 

Construction crews scrambled away over winter break working on the new auditorium at Woodside Elementary School, trying to make sure that students can rehearse there for their annual eighth-grade operetta by April 1.

When the students start their operetta practice in the brand new building, for the first time in many years the rehearsal will not be in a building called Sellman Auditorium. The new facility, which has been referred to while it's been under construction as the Sellman Multi-Purpose Building, is apparently going to be renamed, according to a discussion at the district's governing board Dec. 16 meeting.

The naming of the new building was not on the agenda, but was discussed as part of a report on the construction.

The previous school auditorium/gymnasium was named after George Sellman, who for 23 years was the district superintendent; he retired in 1986.

Mr. Sellman, who directed eighth-grade operettas and community productions at the school for nearly 40 years, died in 2005 at the age of 81. After the building underwent a $1.5 million renovation in 2003, it was re-dedicated with a production in his honor.

The original Sellman Auditorium was demolished in June. Even now, the building under construction is referred to as the "Sellman Multi-Purpose Building" on the school's website.

Emmalyn Shaw, president of the Woodside School Foundation and a member of the Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee, said at the board meeting that the oversight committee members had discussed the name change and thought it would be appropriate. She suggested that perhaps a foyer could be named after Mr. Sellman so the building's name could be "a little bit more school spirit oriented."

George Offen, a longtime Woodside resident and former school board member who is on the oversight committee, said he agreed. "I don't know if we represent all of the community," he said. "For us it wasn't a problem."

Superintendent Beth Polito said that some of the wood from the floor in the old Sellman auditorium was preserved and will be put in the lobby. "The board thought that might be a nice place to honor George Sellman," she said.

Steve Frank, middle school principal, suggested that naming the stage after Mr. Sellman might be appropriate.

Superintendent Polito said the issue will come back to the board on a future agenda for a final decision on the new name, and that students and staff will be asked for their input about a name for the new auditorium.

Comments

21 people like this
Posted by cynic
a resident of Woodside: Kings Mountain/Skyline
on Jan 6, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Sounds like a ploy to have someone pony up a huge donation to get their name on the new building. What are the naming rights going for these days??


24 people like this
Posted by Lorraine McPherson Bailin
a resident of Woodside School
on Jan 8, 2016 at 7:50 am

As a former student and employee of George Sellman I find this to be outrageous. He gave his all to Woodside Elementary from the time he started working there in the 1957/1958 school year. You plan to reduce the honor of George Sellman's memory to a lobby. Shame on you!!


14 people like this
Posted by Lisa Sherman (Layne)
a resident of another community
on Jan 8, 2016 at 8:26 am

George Sellman was the principal while I was a student at Woodside Elementary. If the Board's wish is to find a name that is "a little bit more school spirit oriented", they are out of luck. Nothing embodies Woodside school spirit more than the memory of George Sellman. To even suggest changing the name is a travesty.


19 people like this
Posted by Leslie Stepp
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 8, 2016 at 8:38 am

George Sellman was an honest and nice man who was such a great administrator everyone felt nice around him. He helped make the Woodside Community really, really fun, integrating the school flawlessly with all members of the community through theater and his valued attendance at all sorts of Woodside parties back in the day when Woodside really rocked as a Town. One reason the hall was named after him is because it was hoped his sort of legacy one would inspire other residents of Woodside to reach for, to participate in making a Town a real community. The things of life that money can not buy. I am ashamed of the Woodside Elementary School Board for this ignorant display of avarice in the name of community spirit, as the vanity naming rights will no doubt hit some auction block soon.


12 people like this
Posted by Virginia Andersen
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 8, 2016 at 2:25 pm

I think that Leslie Stepp has done a great job summing up the feelings of many long time Woodside residents.
Why would the Board even consider changing the name??? Who is out there that has done more for WES, past or present, than George Sellman.
Clean up the sign and put it back up!!


3 people like this
Posted by SteveC
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 8, 2016 at 2:26 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

I think they maybe interested in law suits and firing of teachers. The Super. needs to go and now.


18 people like this
Posted by The Tagg Family
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jan 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm

Woodside has a history in which George Sellman played a significant role as longstanding superintendent/principal and director of operettas and community productions for many years. Sellman Auditorium is honoring service not money. That is what makes George Sellman such a big part in the history of Woodside School AND the Woodside community and that should not be erased.
If there is someone else in Woodside who has made more significant SERVICE contributions to the school AND the community, let them be honored with something they deserve and leave the auditorium, multipurpose (whatever building) part of the ongoing history of the town.


19 people like this
Posted by Grant Finlayson
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 10, 2016 at 6:40 pm

Mr. Sellman devoted 40 years to serving WES and the community of Woodside, bringing qualities of integrity, respect, tolerance, patience and human kindness that set the tone for a school of exceptional spirit where individuals and families of a wide variety of backgrounds and viewpoints felt welcome and celebrated. George Sellman's passion for the arts also enriched, uplifted and inspired generations of aspiring artists and others (like me) who ultimately chose other paths but left WES with a meaningful personal experience in musical theater that was niy just a sweet memory but also a lifelong gift of a special appreciation for this unique genre of American culture. Mr. Sellman was the original author and championn of the great tradition of the 8th Grade Operetta that continues to this day.

Shame on the school board for even suggesting that we diminish our community's tribute of appreciation to this special man, who played such a pivotal role in making WES such a special place.

The board should reconsider this wrong-headed proposal, and reaffirm our collective gratitude and remembrance of this fine man who had such a transfornative impact not just on the thousands of students and faculty who were blessed to know him petsonally, but on the very fabric of the special institution and culture that he played such a critical role in forming at this uniquely blessed school.

Grant Finlayson
WES Class of 1972


7 people like this
Posted by Bronwyn
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jan 10, 2016 at 11:52 pm


I agree with all the above comments . Mr Sellman
Was a kind man that really was instrumental to the
Succes and soul of Woodside . please do not change
The name of his building !!
Class 74


11 people like this
Posted by Cathy Quist Brisbin
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 11, 2016 at 9:25 am

I too was at Woodside Elementary for 9 years while the school was guided by Mr. Sellman. I agree with all go the above and would be dismayed to see a name change. The school has already removed the names of donators from the last renovation...is there to be no continuity with the history of the school? I think there was a comment that the committee may not be representative of the community and it seems these comments support that statement. I for one would like to see the auditorium's name remain the same!


14 people like this
Posted by Sarah Quist
a resident of Woodside School
on Jan 11, 2016 at 11:43 am

I was stunned to read the possibility of a name change to the Sellman Auditorium. George Sellman IS part of Woodside history. He played a significant role as a longstanding superintendent/principal and director of operettas and community productions for many years. Sellman Auditorium is honoring his SERVICE to our community. I do hope that the name change is not based on a large financial contribution to the school. I do understand donations are a necessary part of our education system but George Sellman had such a positive impact on WES and the Woodside community. His love and commitment for WES was unparalleled.

I do agree, if there is someone else in Woodside who has made more significant SERVICE contributions to the school AND the community, let them be honored with something they deserve. But please leave the auditorium as part of the ongoing history of Woodside.


7 people like this
Posted by Richard Vaughan
a resident of another community
on Jan 11, 2016 at 11:48 am

During my 10 years as Music Director at Woodside Elementary School (1991-2001), I had the pleasure of working with George when he was the director of the Woodside Community Theatre as well as the director of the 8th Grade Operettas. George embodied the concept of education and community. He spent 1000s of volunteer hours to bring a musical theatre experience to every graduate of WES. Whenever I meet up with a Woodside School grad, the first question isn't, "Did you have Ms. Peterson?" or "Who was King and Queen of your May Day Parade?" but rather, "What was your Operetta?" At least 2 generations of Woodsiders had the chance to experience the magic that George brought to the stage. Mr. Sellman personified all that is good about a small, community school and what one person can do to build a lasting tradition.
As a founder of the Woodside Community Theatre, George further helped to bring together parents, neighbors and family to build a tradition that continues to this day. When Woodside was still a small "horsey town, before "dot-com" was invented, the Community Musical brought everyone together (It was at his final show, "By The Beautiful Sea" that I met my lovely wife - we are now celebrating our 22nd year of bliss.) Yet, it seems that tradition is falling by the wayside. While there is still an operetta, the Woodside Community Theatre no longer rehearses and performs at WES.
Even though the times are changing, I am deeply disappointed that the current school board is considering changing the name of Sellman Auditorium. It demonstrates a lack of understanding the importance of George Sellman to the history of Woodside School. I hope that the board, after reading this and the above comments, will please reconsider their proposal.


5 people like this
Posted by Judi Kiel
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Jan 11, 2016 at 3:13 pm

I've lived in Woodside for 36yrs. We should never be the kind of town that sells out to the highest bidder. Keep the Sellman name and our true history alive.


16 people like this
Posted by Mark Denzler
a resident of another community
on Jan 12, 2016 at 3:51 pm

The identity and character of a place comes from its history, and its history is created by people. George W Sellman II is an integral part of the history of WES and Woodside. In helping shape the characters of all of us that passed through its doors, sat in the classrooms, competed in the gym, strode the stage, or just sat in the audience and applauded the students he enriched and defined what was great about Woodside.

As a member of a family of three children that all went through WES and have become very accomplished people, we feel strongly that we owe a debt of gratitude to people like George Sellman that devote their lives to educating and preparing future generations to face the challenges with knowledge, compassion and humor. Naming a building after him was a fitting tribute but it also recognized the significant investment he personally made in WES and the community by devoting his life's work to the place. Maybe it was not a donation in dollars but I would hold it up as a far more powerful donation that all of us should recognize has helped define the history of Woodside.

I challenge the Board to not diminish the character and identity of Woodside by proceeding with removing his name.

Mark Denzler
WES class of 1972


Like this comment
Posted by Connie Hammond Weinsoff
a resident of another community
on Jan 15, 2016 at 1:51 pm

I too was a Woodside "El" graduate. Mr. Sellman was the embodiment of including all in the community to improve students educational experience while at Woodside. My own mother, Barbara Hammond, worked closely with Mr. Sellman even after I went on to Woodside High and UC Santa Barbara as a GATE teacher and Environmental Educator leading children in the "Grove." She and George were educators "in arms" constantly searching for ground breaking ways of reaching students of all learning styles and abilities. His name deserves to remain at least on the auditorium if not on the entire school...


Like this comment
Posted by Richard Vaughan
a resident of Woodside School
on Jan 17, 2016 at 5:41 pm

For an action such as this to occur, there needs to be a vote by the school board. The next board meeting is Feb. 9. There is a time at the start of every meeting for public comment. If the community truly cares about this, they should show up and make their voices known.


Like this comment
Posted by Jennifer Sellman Anderson
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jan 18, 2016 at 7:50 am


The topic of whether or not to change the name of the auditorium named in my father's honor is on the February 9th agenda of the WES Board meeting. I believe the meeting will start at 3:30, but please check the website to confirm. In addition, the agenda will be posted a couple of days before the meeting. I ask that all that can, please attend. The more people there the more powerful the message.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 25, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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