By Rosalyn Graham
The long-running debate over Champlain Valley Union High School’s mascot may finally be settled by replacing a controversial historical symbol with the name of a fierce predator.
By next September, the mascot and CVU sports teams could sport shirts carrying one of three names: the Redhawks, the Red Wolves or the Bobcats. All athletic teams are currently called the Crusaders.
The new names were chosen from almost 150 suggestions made over the past month. A 14-person committee made up of administrators, teachers, students and community members solicited the suggestions and then picked the top three.
Connie Metz, director of CVU’s Nichols House, chaired the committee. She said the three names were the most popular among committee members. The names also passed an exhaustive examination to ensure they had “absolutely no negative connotations,” Metz said. “We Googled everything.”
Metz said the idea was to eliminate names that had controversial historical connections or contained hidden double entendres.
School Board members will consider which of the three names to use at their June 13 meeting. The goal is to choose a new name in time for the start of the new school year in September.
In December the board voted to find a new name after almost a year of debate over the appropriateness of the Crusaders name, which had designated CVU’s athletic teams for 40 years.
The debate began when students linked the name to a history of oppression by European armies that invaded the Holy Land in the Middle Ages. The discussion divided students, teachers and residents.
Critics of the change argued that the name no longer carries a negative historic connotation and noted that CVU teams had long been called the Crusaders without drawing complaints. Those supporting a change thought the existing name was demeaning and offensive to groups that had been oppressed during the Crusades.
When School Board members finally voted to change the name, they established a committee charged with gathering community input and generating a short list of new names. The board reserved the right to make the final selection based on recommendations from CVU administrators and the school’s Student Council.