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Mascot remains in limbo

Here’s a question that might actually be more complicated than it sounds: “What is red?”

While it might sound like an existential question, the slight variation “What is crimson?” received particular attention at the Dec. 12 North Wasco County School District 21 board meeting.

The unexpected debate followed the Mascot Committee’s seemingly straightforward recommendation for the D21 School Board to retain the high school’s current colors as the search for a new mascot continues.

Trudy Townsend, chief advisor to the committee, brought the recommendation to the board, saying there was a “genuine consensus” among committee members to keep the colors in place.

However, the Eagle Indians mascot, which incorporated the former The Dalles and Wahtonka high schools, is being replaced in response to a state law requiring Native American mascot references be discontinued by 2015.

Carol Roderick, the vice chair of the school board who also occupies a seat on the committee, said she was continually impressed with the students’ reasoning.

“They were aware that changing the school colors would mean spending a lot of the district’s money and appreciated the fact that the current colors have a long history in our community,” she said. “So they, and everyone else on the committee, agreed they should remain the same.”

Following this resolution, however, board member Eric Nerdin raised the question of what keeping the traditional “crimson and gold” really meant.

“I for one have seen lots of variation on both of these colors represented in the high school hallways over the years,” he said, “and although it might seem trivial, if we can establish it once, then we can keep it consistent from now on and avoid any confusion in the future.”

“I’m not asking for a long, drawn-out process,” Nerdin said. “All I’m asking is that they be identified specifically.”

Randy Anderson, board member and chief financial officer for North Wasco County schools, said that when sports uniforms are ordered, the district requests the same color combination as the University of Southern California, or USC.

According to the USC website, these colors are identified as Pantone 201C and Pantone 123C, and are designated as USC Cardinal and USC Gold.

The Pantone Matching System, as stated on the university colors’ web page, is the “definitive international reference for selecting, specifying, matching and controlling ink colors,” and that the “correct and consistent use of USC’s official colors helps reinforce the university’s identity.”

Presumably, this same practice would also serve to reinforce the high school’s identity and, upon reaching a consensus, the board agreed that it was in the school’s best interest to formally adopt the USC color designations as The Dalles High School’s official colors.

At the meeting, Townsend said she hoped the committee would conclude their evaluations of the long list of mascot candidates at the Friday, Dec. 13 meeting.

However, when asked for an update regarding what stage the Mascot Committee was in the selection process on Dec. 18, Townsend said they had “finally got through all of the categories of the scoring rubric” at their last meeting, but had not had “time to come to consensus about how many should be considered in the next round of input.”

“Once this process is concluded,” she said, “our next step will be to figure out how we’re going to engage the community in the decision-making process, introduce our narrowed list of choices and accurately gauge public opinion in the coming weeks.”

The Mascot Committee meets almost every Friday morning at 8 a.m. in the Middle School commons. Members of the public are welcome to attend.


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