Suggestion for high school mascot tabled for now 

By Sarah Brown
Lebanon Local

Lebanon Community School District Board Member Clyde Rood brought forward the idea of reinstating a mascot for Lebanon High School during the Nov. 9 School Board meeting.

Rood suggested an idea of using an historical Native American figure “that would give focus to their history as being strength, one of honor, one of distinctive belonging” which would also be encompassed in the image.

“Therefore it’s not just a Native American image,” Rood said. “It’s not just a figurative thing out of nothing. You’re applying a purpose. You’re applying a history that we can teach the students about the heroism of the time, or whatever it is we decided to settle upon.”

He said he knows it may take several years to implement, but it’s a topic he wanted to introduce to the board.

“I think a mascot is something important for students to have,” Superintendent Jennifer Meckley said. “Especially in a one-high-school town, it’s a shared symbol of optimism.”

Over the years, the LHS mascot and logo have gone over a number of iterations, and most recently it had been decided to get rid of the mascot image but keep the Warriors name, she said. She supports the idea of a mascot, but there are hurdles because the District is attached to legislation.

Adopting any mascot will be expensive, she said, but the process to adopt a Native American mascot is further complicated.

“In our school district we’re really working on advancing our efforts in equity, to ensure safety and belonging for the students,” Meckley said. “In my opinion, shifting our school’s mascot to one that represents any demographic group, especially one that’s a federally protected class, is not a step in the right direction. That’s my opinion. But I do support a mascot and a process to rebrand.”

Board Chair Tom Oliver said, given “significant challenges” the District is trying to deal with right now, he doesn’t feel he could support the idea of focusing on the mascot issue. He also expressed concern about “being under the thumb” of the Oregon Department of Education any more than the District already is.

In other business, the board:

  • Heard a report from leaders at Seven Oak on STAR and SBAC scores;
  • Discussed the possibility of inviting a student representative to sit at the Board table with the privilege of participating in discussions with the board;
  • Heard that Hamilton Creek built a new playground through PTC fundraising efforts;
  • Heard that concrete has been laid for the classroom expansion project at Seven Oak;
  • Heard about plans to upgrade the LHS cafeteria from federal funds that can only be spent on food service projects, and will be completed during the 2024 summer;
  • Heard an update on repairs for Lacomb roof. COO William Lewis said it has been determined only 5% of the roof has asbestos. Bids for repairs will be back on Dec.15. Pre-construction will begin in February 2024. “Ripping off roofs” will begin in June.
  • Meckley presented the annual Student Investment Account report. The grant is an annual grant from Corporate Tax Income until the legislature ends it. The grant has helped fund instructional assistants, Deans of Student Success, mental health therapists, career technical education in middle school, bilingual assistants and English language teachers, she said.

“The biggest barriers have been staffing shortages,” Meckley said. “We have great ideas to get more support, but it’s very hard to find some of these real specialty positions.”

Another barrier has been community engagement, she said.
“We struggle to engage many of our families. We make so many efforts, and it’s a challenge. I think that’s one of our biggest barriers, is getting all of our families to engage in their childs’ education.”