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Eclectic list eyed for mascot

Birds and fish are common team mascots around the country, but imagine a poisonous reptile or a smelly humanoid or a rugged patch of water to get a sense of the range of ideas being considered for the mascot at The Dalles Wahtonka High School.

In its most recent meetings, TDW’s High School Mascot Committee has set out to review the steps it has taken so far to gather information on student opinion and discuss what needs to happen next in order to move further along in the decision-making process.

“The general feeling of the committee is that we would rather not change the school colors and instead focus on choosing a new, student-approved mascot in the most comprehensive way possible,” Trudy Townsend, special projects coordinator for the North Wasco County School District and general facilitator for the Mascot Committee, said.

Two student “straw-polls,” or ones with non-binding results, have been conducted, with one taking place at the middle school and one at the high school. The results of these are currently being evaluated alongside the Mascot Committee Charter’s specifications, the most pertinent of which being that proposed mascots should “be reflective of the community or describe who we are.”

According to the newest press release from the school district, the committee has succeeded in developing a “scoring rubric” that will be used to determine submission suitability and adherence to the standards set by the charter, while still making it a priority to give each idea “fair consideration.”

Among those currently under evaluation are the River Hawks, Rapids, Rattlers, King Salmon, Diamondbacks, Raptors and Sasquatch.

These and many other ideas will be vetted by the committee in accordance with the established rubric in a process that will evaluate each potential mascot’s ability to inspire school spirit, act as a positive reflection of the local community, its feasibility in terms of cost and its degree of “uniqueness,” a category which takes into account whether other schools in the region already use a similar mascot.

This involves a process, Townsend said, that will be used to narrow the long list of generated mascot ideas, after which point the remaining options will be submitted to students at both the middle and high school levels in the form of a poll vote to measure their popularity.

“What we’re really trying to do is to stay true to the school board’s charter while making sure we’re doing it with a consistent process in mind,” Townsend said.

After hearing the committee’s progress report to the D21 School Board on Thursday, the board granted its request to extend the full proposal deadline to Jan. 23, but asked that the committee deliver a decision on school colors by Jan. 9.

However, Townsend says she hopes the committee will be able to reach a recommendation on whether or not the school colors should be altered in time to meet the original deadline, Dec. 12.

Townsend said the committee’s next steps will be to continue reviewing the current mascot choices while remaining open to the consideration of other ideas and exploring ways to further engage the community in the decision-making process.

The committee meets regularly at 8 a.m. in The Dalles Middle School commons on most Fridays. These meetings are free and open to the public, while meeting minutes and announcements are accessible via the district website at http://www.nwasco.k12.or.us/Page/627.

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