Sasquatch on endangered list as Columbia River High School mascot

School board members also worried about Royals as a new brand

If Sasquatch is real, it is camera shy.

Hardly anyone has seen it.

And it would appear unlikely that Sasquatch will be seen on anyone’s ballot at Columbia River High School.

While nothing will be official until a future school board meeting, several Vancouver Public Schools board of directors expressed concerns over the potential new mascot for Columbia River at a workshop Tuesday night. Some were not comfortable about Royals, either.

Sasquatch and Royals are two of the four proposed new mascots/names that are up for approval by the board. Once approved, the Columbia River student body can vote on a name to replace Chieftains, which the board retired in September.

The other two names given to the board for its approval: the Columbia River Rapids, and simply River, with no mascot — just the use of the CR logo and the name River.

The four names were chosen by a transition team made up of 26 people, including students, faculty, alumni, and community members. The team received more than 700 suggestions.

Columbia River administrators want to give students the chance to vote for the new brand by this spring. The plan is for the school board to approve or disapprove the potential names at its next meeting, March, 9, in order to hold that vote.

The board could approve all four names to move forward with the student vote, three, or maybe just two. (No board member expressed a concern for River or Rapids.) There was also discussion about adding another option if the board chooses to disapprove one or two of the names.

If the comments at the workshop are any indication, Sasquatch will remain unseen.

“We had received an email that had some concern over the Sasquatch name,” said board member Kathy Decker. “We had reached out to the same people that we reached out initially about the Chieftains. While they weren’t as adamant about it being an issue for them, they did say it may be better to steer clear of it. 

“It was not a ‘Don’t do this.’ It was a ‘Think twice about this one.’ I’m just going to put that information out there for people to be aware of,” Decker added.

Board member Tracie Barrows is unsure of Sasquatch, as well.

“That was one I wondered about,” she said. “In general, because it’s kind of a mythical creature, that it might be something that wouldn’t necessarily be received well across the board.”

Wendy Smith said she has concerns over Sasquatch and Royals. Kyle Sproul said she is in agreement with Smith, not sure over both of those names.

“This is an opportunity for a fresh start, so I do worry about having a name that potentially would have controversy as we move forward,” Sproul said. 

Board members did not go into much detail with the reasons for their concerns over Royals but there was a mention of colonialism, and a guest at the workshop noted aristocracy.

With two of the four names seemingly in jeopardy of making the cut, Sproul pivoted to what’s next in the process, asking the principal of the high school about the expected timeline.

“My hope was this spring,” Alex Otoupal said. “In April, we would be ready to go forward. I want to get our kids some identity. We need to rally our students around what we’re doing. We have an opportunity to bring people together. That’s the urgency I have.”

Sproul followed up, asking if it would be sufficient to only have two approved names for the students to make a selection.

“I don’t know if I have an answer on that,” Otoupal said. “It certainly narrows the field.”

Earlier in the meeting, Otoupal noted that it is “critically important to me as a principal that we listen to our students in the process.”