Auburndale, WI (OnFocus) The Auburndale School District is continuing its process for a new mascot after community feedback asking for more time.
The district has been without a mascot since 1998, when it dropped Apache imagery after a request by the Apache Nation, but has retained the “A” symbol.
A public survey in January taken by members of the school and community voted for “Storm” as a mascot. This has not been officially approved, although there is a school board motion to retire the Apaches name and implement the Storm mascot beginning August 2020.
At its January meeting, the school board decided to take more time in order to get more input from the public and share information. “[Community members] certainly understand with regret that we need to move forward on the retirement of the Apache label, but would like more time in considering what the new mascot will be,” said District Administrator Jamie Delikowski.
The school board will meet Feb. 19 at which time the motion to approve “Storm” may be acted upon. Based on public input received, the direction of the board may be to decide to extend the search for a new mascot and put out a new survey for mascot ideas. Student leadership could then narrow those ideas down to a final list before voting reopens to students, the community, and alumni, with potentially more mascot options, said Delikowski.
In January, Auburndale voted from a list which included Express, Storm, Aubies, Alpha Wolves, and Avalanche.
Multiple mascot informational meetings have been held since that January board meeting to get community feedback. During the Feb. 12 meeting, a letter dated Feb. 7 was read from a New Mexico council member of the Chiricahua Apache Nation, asking the district not to appropriate its tribal name and to instead teach true Apache history as a better way to honor them.
The letter also pointed out that the decision to drop Native American imagery and names has a precedent, with other schools such as Stanford University and Dartmouth College accomplishing the task.
The informational meetings revealed a desire from the Auburndale community to have a mascot which accurately reflects on the students.
“The community wants a new mascot that reflects the integrity and the work ethic and the success of the students of Auburndale,” said Delikowski. “They want to put as much time into that process as we can to make sure that whatever our new mascot is, it reflects the achievements and the vast credits of our students in so many different areas.”
The color blue and the Auburndale “A” would remain part of the school’s branding. Once approved, the design of the mascot could potentially be undertaken by the district’s art students, said Delikowski during the informational meeting.
A new mascot could have a positive effect on students who have done without one for decades.
“Sometimes I wonder if 21 years of not having that mascot has dampened our school spirit a little bit,” he said. “Maybe this new mascot, whatever it ends up being, might slowly build that spirit again.”