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Naming the Wildcat Wash

On Friday, April 12, New River Elementary School had a dedication for the naming of a wash that runs by our school. It is now called Wildcat Wash. First, a little history about New River Elementary School.  It was established in 1934, and then acquired by Deer Valley District in 1967.  There is a one room school house that is full of great history on the south end of campus.  During the 2002 school year, a brand new campus was built for us! The new campus was constructed on the existing playground, while our north field was converted into a new playground. Only at New River can children and nature be so entwined. The river runs beside us when the desert has a good downpour, otherwise it's a dry river bed. In winter, we enjoy the cold winter wind howling down the canyon river bed, making it pretty cold for us desert people. Some wild animals visit us from time to time and the teachers enjoy turning these situations into learning experiences.  New River is rich with history, and full of future hopes!


The wash comes from the west, winding through the Sonoran Desert, under Interstate 17, then under the student’s bridge, and it joins New River.  If you are patient and quiet you will see all manner of wildlife traveling the wash. Sometimes, you can see five feet of rushing water moving down the wash bed.  Every day, several times a day, the students of New River cross the wash on this bridge to and from the grassy field for play and exercise.  To everyone at the school it has always been called "the wash."  In October of 2018, Ms. Fredlund and Mr. Olsen were standing on the bridge looking down into the wash where a tangled mess of fallen tree branches lay and discussed how to keep it maintained.  After looking up geological survey maps, school blueprints, even on Google Earth, it was determined that the wash had no name.  Mr. Smith with the Flood Control District of Maricopa County was asked the same question.  He did some detailed analysis, provided some great maps, and agreed that the wash was not named.  He suggested that we go to the Arizona State web page, which led us to the next person – Mr. Ehrfurth, who is part of the Arizona State Library and supports the Arizona State Board on Geographic and Historic Names.  He provided information on naming guidelines.  In November we asked for input from the New River students, who all voted on what name we should propose. It was decided that the appropriate name for the wash would be based on the school mascot: “The Wildcats.”


Mrs. Hutchinson, who is part of the New River-Desert Hills Community Association, was also asked her input. She provided, on behalf of the local community, a letter supporting our wish to name the wash.  Mr. Schickel also gave a letter of support on behalf of the Daisy Mountain Fire Department.  We provided all our materials back to Mr. Ehrfurth and in late January, we received the welcome news. The wash officially has a new name per the State of Arizona! It is called “Wildcat Wash.”  After that we contacted Mr. Coleman at the Maricopa County Department of Transportation, and requested that signs be put up on the frontage road showing the new name of the wash.   In February 2019, a road crew came by and put up the signs.   Mr. Olsen happened to see them working and it turns out by an amazing coincidence that the person putting up the sign was Mr. Weeks, a former student of New River School.  So, on Friday, April 12th we celebrated the newest named wash in Arizona, Wildcat Wash!