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In an age of zero tolerance school weapons policies, is it appropriate for an elementary school to have a mascot that is itself a weapon?
This was the basic question at the center of a Lancaster County school board discussion at their Tuesday, Dec. 10, meeting over the appropriateness of the proposed Tomahawk mascot for Indian Land’s new elementary school.
The discussion came during consideration to affirm the name, school colors and mascot for the Harrisburg Road school chosen by a naming committee as part of a process that began in September.
Committee members presented their suggestions during last month’s meeting. Their choices are based on the history and heritage of the school’s location – Harrisburg Elementary; colors blue, gold and white; and the Tomahawks.
District 6 board member Maggie Gamble prompted the discussion immediately after the motion to affirm.
“I’d like some discussion,” Gamble said. “As I mentioned to Dr. Moore ... I have a problem with this.”
Gamble’s reservations stemmed from the contradictory nature of the school having a weapon for a mascot when weapons are banned from schools, a reservation Gamble said she had before reading a letter to the editor by Indian Land grandmother Helaine Yancy expressing the same concerns.
Gamble said for the most part, school mascots are named after animals or people. The only exception she could think of, she said, being the Stanford Cardinals – named after the color, not the bird – with its dancing tree mascot.
“Then I looked up ‘tomahawk,’ and it said, ‘a small axe used as a weapon,’” Gamble said. “I found my decision.”
Gamble went on to ask why couldn’t the school’s mascot also be the “Warriors” since the suggested colors for the elementary school were the same as Indian Land high and middle schools to preserve community continuity.
District 2 board member Tyrom Faulkner said he didn’t have a problem with “Tomahawks” in general, but suggested that if there was a problem with naming the mascot after a weapon, maybe the “Catawbas” would be a better choice.
Lancaster County School District Planning Director Lydia Quinn, who facilitated the naming committee, said the committee considered all feedback it received about the tomahawk mascot.
The committee’s discussion of the tomahawk as a weapon, Quinn said, was mitigated by the fact that Indian Land Elementary uses a spearhead logo, from which it draws its motto, “Spearheading Success.”
“So, what, are you gonna ‘Tomahawk Success?’” Gamble quipped.
District 4 board member Bill Sumner spoke in support of the mascot, saying he felt comfortable accepting the “Tomahawks” since it was a well-researched choice made by a group of community members with an interest in the school’s success.
“We can take any symbol, I don’t care what it is, and make it into something,” Sumner said. “I have no problem with people speaking their minds, but we asked, and they (the committee) presented their decision, and I think we ought to accept it.”
“We accepted it as a recommendation,” Gamble said. “I just feel like I have a voice and I have to express what I feel about the choice of ‘Tomahawk.’”
District 5 school board member Janice Dabney asked if the choice were to become an issue in the future, would be possible for the school board to change the mascot. LCSD Superintendent Dr. Gene Moore said he felt certain the board did have the power.
With that, board chairman Bobby Parker called for a vote on the motion to affirm the committee’s choices.
With Gamble dissenting and District 7 board member Mary Etta Taylor absent, board members voted 5 to 1 to approve the blue, gold and white Harrisburg Elementary School Tomahawks.
Attendance boundary OK’d
In a related action, board members voted 6-0 to approve the proposed attendance boundary for the Harrisburg Elementary School.
Developed by LCSD Director of Safety and Transportation Bryan Vaughn and others, the boundary begins between Hanover and Possum Hollow roads in the 8800 block of U.S. 521.
Heading west, the boundary runs south of Possum Hollow Road until it dips southward to encompass Whippoorwill Drive along the fire district boundary before continuing west to the Catawba River.
East from U.S. 521, the boundary line cuts across undeveloped property north of the City of Light to Six Mile Creek, which it follows northward to Cow Branch. From there, the line follows the shoreline of Cow Branch east to the state line north of Ravenwood Drive and south of Cook Drive and Caddell and Smith roads.
In other action:
• Board members presented Trustee Awards to several district students for outstanding accomplishments. Among them were:
• Andrew Jackson High School choral students Scott Barrett, Lexi Fletcher, Amanda Mobley, Brandon Pardue and Eric Roberts for winning auditions to participate in the prestigious 2013 South Carolina All-State Chorus
• AJHS students Raheem Carter and Briana Wright for competing on the 2013 Class AA All-State Track Team
• AJHS student Haley Faulkenberry for competing on the 2012-13 All-State Softball Team.
• AJHS student Trevor Hammond for competing on the 2012-13 All-State Soccer Team
• AJHS student Tripp Rollings for competing on the 2012-13 All-State Baseball Team
• Indian Land Middle School for earning its second National promising Practice in Character Education Award
Contact reporter Reece Murphy at (803) 283-1151.