New name, mascot for GM? Not yet, but Principal Broadley is developing a plan

By Cynthia Prairie
© 2024 Telegraph Publishing LLC

John Broadley wanted to give the school mascot/name issue some breathing room before bringing it back up again.

In December, shortly after the name “Chieftains” was voted down 6 to 3 by a vote of the board of the Green Mountain Unified School District, Broadley, the new principal at Green Mountain High, was asked to craft a process for coming up with a new name.

It would mean the beginning of the end to a monthslong controversy that pitted parents and board members who wanted to keep the 50-year-old moniker despite its ties to the Plains Indian mascot against those who believed it was in violation of the school’s and the state’s directives against such names and images.

The school board had been embroiled in the controversy for months before that December vote, controversy that saw the resignation last May of three board members and Lauren Fierman, the superintendent of Two Rivers Supervisory Union, who said she could not defend the name.

But by December, the turmoil in the school board had largely calmed down and it voted to drop the name.  Fierman then assigned Broadley to the task of developing a plan to find a new name, and Cavendish board member Kate Lamphere, who voted to drop the name, then said that she still felt it was important to have a mascot or name to rally around.

Broadley took two months before addressing the issue publicly, saying, “Having a break from the whole controversy is probably a good thing.”

In an interview in late March, Broadley outlined the beginnings of a plan to come up with a new name for the schools sports team. He said it will “heavily involve kids, families and staff and possibly the community.” He clarified that that would mean the “wider community in the district,” the elementary schools and all towns — Andover, Baltimore, Cavendish, Chester, Ludlow and Mt. Holly. 

While Broadley has “no specific timeline,”  after the April break (April 8-12) he intends to survey GM students and its student government about “possible rebranding and ideas. There are many more names that people could throw out there that would not impact the (state and supervisory union) guidelines that we have to follow.”

“Who knows when the name will actually be chosen,” he added. “We’ll look at names and logos and designs. And survey parents and community members. By the summer, we may know what direction we are moving in.” After that, the school will head into “Phase 2:” implementation. “I want it to be about the kids and their families and the communities.”

He did express concern over the possible financial burden of a new name, the biggest cost coming in the sports uniforms: soccer, basketball, cross country, indoor track, softball.  The saving grace is that the uniforms are replaced on a rotating basis so the cost would be over several years.

Broadley said he’s confident that Green Mountain students will embrace whatever new name is chosen. He cited a similar situation that occurred last summer at Brattleboro Union High School, which, according to VT Digger, had to drop the name “Colonels,” adopted in 1950 as a Union symbol from the Civil War that morphed by the 1970s into a southern plantation owner.

Students, he said, quickly embraced the school’s new mascot and name — the Bears.

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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor more than 40 years. Cynthia has worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland, and has won numerous state awards for her reporting. As an editor, she has overseen her staffs to win many awards for indepth coverage. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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  1. Martha Mott says:

    I suggest that the new name be:
    Mountain Lions
    Green Mountain Lions