Our View: Adults should speak softly on W-B Area mascot matter

Coughlin’s Jervone Young, GAR’s Malachi Williams, and Meyers’ Ryan Maffei pose for a photo before the start of each school’s last football season. Soon, Wilkes-Barre Area will have to decide on new colors for its sports teams, plus a new nickname. - Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader

As the merger of sports programs in Wilkes-Barre Area School District’s three high schools continues apace, it may be a good time for a short breather, and a bit of advice.

When it comes to picking a new mascot for the unified team, and the new colors, will the adults please butt out.

Not completely of course. Adults must ultimately make the final decision, and adults should certainly be welcome to offer their own suggestions. In fact, Steven Barrouk provided one mascot option Wednesday at a “coffee with the superintendent” gathering hosted by said superintendent, Brian Costello.

Falcons.

Barrouk, a former official in the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry, said he thought it would be a nice recognition of the return of peregrine falcons to the Wyoming Valley. It’s an interesting idea.

But this decision, as well as the school colors, really needs to be owned by the students, especially those who will wear the new uniforms and sport the new colors next fall.

In that vein, it was encouraging to learn from Costello that the district has conducted a survey of students, asking for recommendations. He conceded some were “silly,” while others were very original. He said the numbers are being tallied and will be presented at some point to the school board. Thursday’s school board meeting would be the earliest opportunity, though if there is a presentation and even a recommendation, it seems to behoove the board to let the notion sit in the public for comment at least a few weeks before any official action.

There are a few mascot names that, for obvious reasons, probably should be ruled out. For example, there may be an urge to somehow revive the three current mascots — Crusaders, Mohawks and Grenadiers. But clearly the “Crusading Mohawk Grenadiers” would be as unwieldy as it is unwise. And it’s tough to imagine an elegant amalgamation (CruMoGrens? GrenadingHawks?) Any such effort to preserve the past in a future name would ultimately cause head-scratching among future students.

There is also the consideration of avoiding duplication or even similarities with mascots and colors of existing teams this new school will play. In fact, the hope would be to come up with something both new and appealing, to the ear and the eye.

But most importantly, any new mascot and colors must be something appealing to the students. This has nothing to do with who played where in the past, of how many generations of a family graduated from one school, of how much old-timers revelled in inter-district rivalries once upon a time. Costello has proposed several plans to preserve and display all that heritage in the new building.

There is nothing to be gained if parents and alumni attack the final choice on legacy grounds. This is something new.

Make it inspiring? Of course. Make it enduring? That would be a natural intent. Make it something students from all three schools are willing, even eager, to rally around? Surely, that’s a very logical and worthy goal.

But most of all, make it something the students shaped as part of their own future, and eventually their own past.

— Times Leader

Coughlin’s Jervone Young, GAR’s Malachi Williams, and Meyers’ Ryan Maffei pose for a photo before the start of each school’s last football season. Soon, Wilkes-Barre Area will have to decide on new colors for its sports teams, plus a new nickname.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/web1_FootballTabInside.jpgCoughlin’s Jervone Young, GAR’s Malachi Williams, and Meyers’ Ryan Maffei pose for a photo before the start of each school’s last football season. Soon, Wilkes-Barre Area will have to decide on new colors for its sports teams, plus a new nickname. Bill Tarutis | For Times Leader