ST. CLOUD -- The St. Cloud Area School District’s new Riverwoods building now has a proper name.

At Wednesday night's meeting, the board voted to adopt the name Katherine Johnson Education Center for the recently acquired former CentraCare Recovery Plus building on Anderson Avenue.

Executive Director of Operations Gary Ganje says the name will honor the legacy of NASA mathematician and fits in with an existing naming theme.

Katherine Johnson was a NASA mathematician whose work was instrumental in the success of the early space program. The name aligns with the north-side space theme of Apollo and Discovery.

The name beat out Sterling Education Center and Paul Kinney Education Center as one of the top three from an overall total of 26 potential options.

The building joins six others in the country in being named after Johnson, who passed away in 2020 at 101 years of age.

Ganje says Johnson’s daughter Joylette Hylick gave the district her blessing to use the name, and once a memorandum of understanding agreement is in place, students attending the program will be eligible for scholarships through the Katherine Johnson Foundation.

Johnson's time at NASA was dramatized in the film "Hidden Figures," along with that of colleagues Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson.

The Riverwoods program, previously housed at the St. Cloud Children’s home, is a Level IV EBD specialty program that provides additional support to students who have been referred and helps give them the skills necessary to return to a traditional school setting.

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