ELKHART — An Elkhart Central High School senior has started a Change.org petition in hopes of getting the mascot changed for the school district’s new Elkhart High School.
The petition comes after students at Elkhart Community Schools voted last year on the identity of the district’s new unified school – a merger of Central and Memorial high schools. They selected Elkhart High School as the name, royal blue and gold as the colors, and “Mangy Lion” as the mascot – the name of a trophy the two schools exchanged over the years in a storied crosstown football competition.
School board members were on board with the school name and colors but expressed concern about “Mangy” and how it would be perceived by outsiders, amending the mascot name to the “Lions.”
Student Patrick Yeakey on Monday started a Change.org petition calling for change.
“The members of the board decided that the Mangy should be dropped, changing what many students felt was an appropriate mascot for the new high school,” Yeakey stated in his petition. “Our students feel as if our voices are not being heard and we have decided that a new mascot shall be chosen.”
Yeakey, president of the superintendent’s student advisory council for Elkhart Central, said he met with the council at Elkhart Memorial. He said both councils were concerned the amended mascot name has no history behind either of the high schools.
Football rivals Memorial and Central battled for the Mangy Lion for over 40 years as part of a crosstown competition. The Mangy Lion trophy was a symbol for victory for whichever team came out on top. That school got to keep Mangy in its hallway for a year until the next game.
That will come to an end when the district’s two high schools consolidate into one Elkhart High School in the fall of 2020. But students still believe Mangy is part of the school’s history.
“We already have a team in the conference called the Lions (Bremen Senior High School),” said Brian Mullins, a senior at Elkhart Central. “And I just don’t think it’s smart to have two Lions in the same conference.”
Conor Butler, a junior, offered a similar sentiment. “I just think we need a more creative mascot to keep us unique.”
Organizers are seeking 200 to 300 signatures from students who are behind the initiative.
The students have until Feb. 21 to get the signatures. Elkhart Central Principal Frank Serge said he will assist students with presenting the petition to the school board.
“The students came to me about this (petition) a while ago, and I said if there’s enough interest in it, then let’s get some signatures on a petition and see how serious you are and if there’s enough interest in it, then I’ll assist you in how we need to do it and we’ll do it the right way,” Serge said.
Serge said he believes the petition will be a good learning experience for the students regardless of the outcome.
“I want (the petition) to be appropriate, I want them to be respectful and I want them to handle it in a professional matter,” he said.
As of Monday afternoon, close to 100 students had signed the online petition. However, Yeakey said due to glitches on the site, he thinks he’ll change it to a paper copy since he believes that will generate awareness more effectively.
“I’m a huge proponent of the school system … it’s a great school system and it’s important for us to keep the tradition,” he said.