Proposed Mascot Alternative is Recommended to Lamar School Board

 

 

The Lamar School District mascot committee, tasked with developing a new logo and imagery to replace the decades old Lamar Savages, made their presentation to the Lamar District School Board during its March 21st meeting.

A law passed by the Colorado legislature last year, SB21-116, mandates mascot imagery used by schools and deemed offensive by the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs, be changed by June 1st or face a $25,000 monthly fine until an acceptable replacement was approved.

Following several meetings with representatives of the CCIA, the Lamar School Board developed a mascot committee comprised of alumni, community members, parents, school staff and four students who represented each grade from Lamar High School.  The committee worked in conjunction with Katie Knisley with Jostens ring company and John Jensen, who acted as a facilitator to help develop an alternative for presentation to the CCIA.

Jenson told the school board he had a similar experience with his own high school years after he had graduated and felt the process of change could have been handled better at that time.  He said one task the mascot committee faced was preparing the students to make their Lamar High School even more meaningful than it is now in light of the required mascot change.  The suggestions were developed to maintain the same definitions that Savages conveyed onto the new selection, that of being tough, driven, active, fearless, undaunted and determined.

Jenson described the alternatives the committee dealt with, “If we could stay with the Lamar Savages and use the bison with that image, we could continue with that identity.  However, they considered just maintaining the Savage name with that different image.  The second option was to suggest Savage Thunder; using the bison as the mascot, but Savage Thunder lessens the word Savage a bit and the concentration is on Thunder, such as a Thundering Herd, a rolling, unstoppable force.”  He said another suggestion was Lamar Savage Thunder, maintaining our identity.  Jenson said the overall approach and aspect of the change should not be offensive to anyone, but reflect the school’s commitment to athletics, academics and the arts.

Committee member, Paul Westoff, an alumnus of Lamar schools, said the committee was comprised of a cross section of the Lamar community, adding, “Change is not always easy to accept.  You have the feeling that something is being taken away from you and this makes it difficult to move forward.   We recognize the need to respect the requests of native Americans and these are not new.  I remember my sister mentioning back in the 60s that this was brought before the school as well as a proposal from state legislator, Ben Nighthorse Campbell.  What is the cost to us as an individual school or community to make this change?”  Westoff finished his statements by praising the students on the committee, adding that the town is very fortunate to have these youth’s contributions.

Student Mason Mireles addressed the board, asking its recommendation on their suggestions and added, “We are aware that the state legal mandates are beyond our control for this change, but we can adjust and we will have control over the new choice.  This still says who we are.”

Committee Member, teacher Haley Reedy, displayed some of the suggestions of a bison logo for the board’s approval, while other speakers stated the new use of the Savages, if allowed to remain, would be an adjective describing Lamar Savage Thunder, not who, but how we are.  The board also stated they felt the district was following the letter of the law with the recommended change in that the alteration does not present an aspect of things that are negative or would have a negative impact to any specific tribe or tribal traditions.

Board president, Lanie Mireles, said the presentation to the Colorado Commission on Indian Affairs would be on Friday, April 15th and it will decide to either accept the first selection or its alternative.
By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarEventsFeaturedHistorySchool

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