The Vancouver school board rejected two of the four names brought forth by Columbia River High School’s mascot transition team, and voted 3-1 Tuesday night to send the suggestions back to the committee with a request to consider additional naming options.
Director Kathy Decker voted not to approve the motion.
“Based on this conversation, it does not look like the board is interested in Sasquatch or Royals,” board President Kyle Sproul said Tuesday night.
Those were two of the four mascot options presented to the board after months of work done by a 26-person committee featuring current students and staff, alumni and community members, said Principal Alex Otoupal. The school district received more than 700 suggestions after the board voted in September to retire the Hazel Dell high school’s Chieftains nickname.
Names still up for consideration are Rapids and River; the latter is a no-mascot option. The school board can approve the list of potential names at its next meeting March 23. Once it is approved, the Columbia River student body will vote on a new mascot and symbol from the board’s list.
“It’s critically important to me, as a principal, that we listen to our students in this process,” Otoupal said at a recent board workshop. “We have an opportunity to rally our students around our identity. That’s why our history is so important to us on this transition team.”
With the board not in favor of Sasquatch or Royals, directors said Tuesday they want more mascot suggestions to align with policy as well as to provide students with a sufficient number of names to choose from. The district’s mascot policy states the board must have as few as three, but no more than five names brought for review and approval.
Board members also discussed the names at length during a Feb. 23 board workshop, including believing Sasquatch and Royals could be problematic. Decker said she reached out to local tribes after receiving an email from someone in the community concerned about Sasquatch as a potential option.
“(The tribes) said they might recommend steering clear of it,” Decker said.
Director Wendy Smith said she had concerns about Royals, citing colonialism attached to the name.
Said Smith: “I would be hesitant to create another problem with a mascot at Columbia River.”