Thursday June 15, 2017
It’s official. The school board unanimously accepted a resolution offered by the Mascot Selection Oversight Committee on Wednesday, June 7, approving the committee’s recommendation of the new mascot, the Wolves.
The approval of the Wolves concludes the name change process which began with a February 2017 school board decision to retire the decades-old Rebel name. The search for a new name began the next month with the formation of a committee to lead the process. The committee, which was made up of 40 individuals including current students and alumni from the classes of 1967-2023 , parents/guardians, boosters, and staff, officially convened March 28. On April 12 they began taking suggestions from students and community members for a new mascot via a phone hot-line, online, and through suggestion boxes at schools. The committee held 7 meetings, and conducted three student polls for students in grades 6-12 to vote on the choices via a Survey Monkey poll. The list of contenders was narrowed from more than 130 suggestions to 70 approved choices, then to twelve semifinalists and the top three finalists, the Huskies, Pride (a pack of lions), and the Wolves. After the third round of voting, the Wolves came out on top.
At the June 7 meeting, co-chairs of the committee, F. H. Tuttle Middle School Principal Karsten Schlenter and South Burlington High School Principal Patrick Burke described the process for the name selection and members of the committee stepped forward to read the recommendation in the form of a resolution.
Committee member Rich Wise, who is also a resident, parent, SBHS alumni and teacher, said that the heart of the committee lay in respecting the past, but building upon the future while facing the challenges of a community that continues to change. “We are honoring our past while we embrace a vision for a unifying future,” Wise said.
Board member Bridget Burkhardt lauded the committee’s swift work, and the presentation was met with a standing ovation from members of the public.
Martin LaLonde, on behalf of the board, honored student representative to the school board Isaiah Hines for his service to the district; as a graduating senior, this was his final board meeting prior to heading to Columbia University. Hines has been a staunch advocate for the name change since he began his time on the board last year.
The name change process itself has faced controversy and contention. A number of people have been critical of the process that led to the change, and felt that the community should have had more input in the final decision. After the board’s decision to change the name, a Facebook group, the Rebel Alliance, organized to maintain the Rebel identifier for sports teams. The group went on to form a PAC (political action committee) to push back against the school budget. In early April residents affiliated with the group submitted two petitions to the city clerk, each with the required number of voter signatures to qualify for a ballot initiative. One petition sought to keep the Rebel name, and another sought to bar the allocation of budget resources toward any name change efforts. City Clerk Donna Kinville vetted the signatures, and presented the petitions to the board at the beginning of May. After discussion and information from their legal counsel that the board is under no legal obligation to place petitions on a ballot and, if approved, they are not bound to follow the results, the board decided 4:1 against putting the questions on a ballot for public vote. Based on this May 10 decision, four members of the Rebel Alliance group filed a lawsuit against the district on June 9.
With the retirement of the name, the class of 2017 will be the last to be known as the Rebels. The new name is scheduled to be in place for the opening of the 2017-18 school year; an image for the new Wolves mascot is being designed locally.
the New Mascot Committee
recognizes the vital role of school spirit and respects the proud
traditions forged by
South Burlington alumni
the School Board has an ongoing responsibility to continue to build our proud tradition working in concert with all the current and
future students and families of South Burlington
we, the South Burlington School District Mascot Selection Oversight Committee, do hereby recommend that the School Board officially adopt Wolves as our new school mascot and identifier for the purpose of enabling a unified and spirited school community.
SOURCE: Corey Burdick, Correpsondent