Freedom Crest Elementary learns how it got its name

John O’Donnell sharing the school’s history at the Freedom Friday assembly. Valley News/Menifee Union School District photo

MENIFEE – Freedom Crest Elementary held its weekly Freedom Friday assembly, March 10, that brought together students and faculty in a celebration of school culture and pride. The assembly was made all the more special by the attendance of John O’Donnell, the son of Menifee Union School District board Trustee Bob O’Donnell and a key contributor in the naming of the elementary school.

“We had a large naming committee, and we started with about 20 names,” Trustee Bob O’Donnell said. “We narrowed it down to two names. Freedom Crest felt the most patriotic.”

At the school assembly, O’Donnell spoke briefly about the school’s history, part of which is memorialized on a plaque in the front office of the school. The description on the plaque explains how the school’s name was meant to pay tribute to those who serve in the name of freedom.

From left, Menifee Union School District board Trustee Bob O’Donnell, former military and son of Bob O’Donnell; John O’Donnell and Freedom Crest Elementary Principal Eli Orr attend the Freedom Friday assembly. Valley News/Menifee Union School District photo

“They help build the foundation and instill core values of citizenship, respect, and commitment in our children who, in truth, are ‘freedom’s crest,’” according to the plaque description.

As a Menifee native, John O’Donnell grew up in Menifee and attended Menifee Elementary School. He eventually joined the United States Marine Corps, and 22 years later, he retired as gunnery sergeant.

In reflection on the naming of the school, John O’Donnell shared, “It was a unique time in American history, there was a lot going on. We wanted to find a school name that would remind students that freedom is not free.”

He even shared with students lessons learned from his father: “Ten Things That Require Zero Talent.”

Submitted by Menifee Union School District.

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