Board requests more mascot options for Columbia River High School


River and Rapids still a possibility, but board wants Sasquatch and Royals removed from list

Sasquatch is still unseen and unheard.

The Royals have been overthrown.

And Columbia River High School remains in a holding pattern before its student body can vote on a new brand.

The Vancouver School District’s Board of Directors is sending name recommendations back to committee.

The school board has asked for more options for a new branding at Columbia River High School. The board retired Chieftains in September and the school is hoping to vote on a new mascot this school year. Photo by Mike Schultz
The school board has asked for more options for a new branding at Columbia River High School. The board retired Chieftains in September and the school is hoping to vote on a new mascot this school year. Photo by Mike Schultz

Columbia River has been without a brand for its sports teams and academic clubs since the school board retired Chieftains in September. Since then, a transition committee was formed and four names were presented to the school board for approval: Sasquatch, Royals, Rapids, and no mascot, but simply going with River along with the CR logo.

The school board must approve potential names before the student body can hold a vote.

Directors on Tuesday did not vote on each individual name, but it was clear that they were uncomfortable with Sasquatch and Royals. Knowing those names would not be approved, the board worried that two options would not be enough for the students to consider.

An alternate motion, requesting that the transition committee come up with up to three more names to go with Rapids and River, was approved by a 3-1 vote. 

The hope is to have the new names sent to the board before its study session on March 23. 

“I do feel like there is a compelling need for options,” said Kyle Sproul, president of the board, referring to the student election. 

She noted that if Rapids and River are the only two choices, well, one choice — River — is not to have a mascot. It’s just River. With that said, Sproul voted to give students more choices.

“I absolutely understand the urgency to create a new brand and a new mascot for the school,” Sproul said.

Still, she noted that the former mascot lasted nearly 60 years. The new mascot could last 100 years.

“If it takes a little longer to get it right … I’m open to that,” Sproul said.

Board members noted that while it was their action to retire Chieftains, it is the students who will be selecting the new brand. Their voice, board members said, must be valued.

At the same time, members noted that it is them, the adults, who must vet potential names prior to a vote, to ensure any new name would be appropriate.

“To reduce it to two … I don’t feel that’s giving students enough choice to exercise their voice in the process,” said Wendy Smith, a director.

All four board members had an issue with Sasquatch. The board learned that Sasquatch could be considered insensitive to local tribes. 

“Every indigenous tribe member I spoke to said it would be best if it’s not one of the options,” said Kathy Decker, a director.

The Chieftains were the mascot for Columbia River High School since the school opened in 1962. That name has been retired by the school board, and the process to select a new name is ongoing. Photo by Mike Schultz
The Chieftains were the mascot for Columbia River High School since the school opened in 1962. That name has been retired by the school board, and the process to select a new name is ongoing. Photo by Mike Schultz

Board members could not find a connection with the community, the state, or the Pacific Northwest for the name Royals. A connection to at least one of those three areas was supposed to be a requirement, according to the district’s policy on renaming mascots.

Sproul, Smith, and Tracie Barrows, the vice president, voted in favor of sending the issue back to committee. Decker voted against the alternate motion but noted it was not because she was for Sasquatch and/or Royals, but because of the time crunch that this is placing on the school’s students, teachers, and administrators.

Alex Otoupal, the principal at Columbia River, was a participant in the online meeting, as well. He made it clear at a meeting last month that the hope is to have a vote this academic year. He said Tuesday that if requested, he would attempt to get the transition team together again in order to bring the board additional choices.

“The kids are ready for some identity,” Otoupal said. “We’re ready to move. Just need to hear your directive.”

The directive was made: Back to the committee, with a request to remove Sasquatch and Royals, and give the board a few more names to consider.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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