Archive for Monday, December 9, 2013

Mascot, color change the right choice

December 9, 2013

The Bonner Springs-Edwardsville school board made a wise decision when they voted to change the school colors and mascot at Clark Middle School. In the future, the middle school teams will be known as the “Braves” and will wear orange and black like the high school teams. The idea is to develop school pride at an earlier age and carry it through high school. It makes a lot of sense and follows a pattern that has been popular throughout the state.

The Clark teams wore yellow and black and were the “Panthers.” I have no idea how that name or colors came to be adopted. I do know that the high school had a lot of unofficial nicknames until the mid-1930s. The name was selected in a contest among students and the name makes sense. Bonner Springs was once the home of the Delaware Indians, who were a proud and progressive tribe. I gained tremendous respect for the Delaware Nation when working with them in an effort to locate a casino in Bonner Springs. At that time, the chief told me he was happy that the community remembered the Delaware heritage and thought the mascot was proper.

The dual mascots and colors are a remnant from another era of education. Many towns, including Bonner Springs, had separate school boards — one for the grade school and one for the high school. They operated independently and sometimes were fiercely territorial. When I taught at Council Grove Rural High School, there was no superintendent. The school was operated by the principal. The same was true of the grade school, where a principal was in charge. That meant separate mascots and colors. Of course, in the 1920s and 1930s, there were many who did not go to high school and their loyalties were to the grade school.

In Garnett, where I grew up, the high school has always been the Bulldogs and had red and white colors. The seventh and eighth grades were the Irving Hornets with red and green uniforms. It was a very common practice at that time.

In addition, there were many rural schools in most counties, and the idea of busing had yet to become popular. The old Chieftains contain weekly results of rural school basketball games. All of that changed in the early 1960s when schools were required to consolidate. In the case of some communities, the rural grade schools continued and kids came to the unified school in junior high or high school.

Locally, Robert E. Clark Middle School has had many names. When I moved here it was Bonner Springs Junior High. Later, when the new building was approved, it became Pioneer Junior High. When it changed to a middle school, there were objections to calling it “PMS” and the final name change took place, honoring a long-time principal, Robert E. Clark.

Junior high sports were much less common in those days. Most schools had boys’ basketball and possibly track, and that was it. Now schools offer a variety of sports. It still confuses some, but middle schools or junior highs have wrestling and girls’ basketball in November and December and boys’ basketball in January and February. Most have football and track and a few schools offer cross country. Modern young people have lots of opportunities for activities.

I always liked the name “Bravettes” for the girls’ teams, but that is probably gone forever.

Certainly the school board’s action made sense. It was favored by over 80 percent of the respondents to an online survey. I hope that it results in increased school spirit and support for the Bonner Springs Braves activities and that on game days, more people in town will wear orange and black.

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