ROGUE RIVER —Students at Rogue River Elementary School could soon be aligning themselves with a new winged mascot.
The proposal to change the mascot from Brave to Riverhawk goes before the School Board at 1:30 p.m. today at the district's administrative offices.
"It's a new identity," said board member Trayce Jensen.
The Rogue River School District is using the Riverhawk logo with permission from Umpqua Community College, which uses the same mascot, district officials said.
Superintendent Paul Young said the mascot change comes two years after Evans Valley Elementary School closed and its students were moved to Rogue River schools. Evans Valley's mascot was the Timber Wolf, while Rogue River Elementary's was the Cougar.
Rather than take one mascot over the other, the district chose to go with Rogue River Middle School's Brave as a temporary measure until a new mascot could be named.
"There was a decision made that we wouldn't just force the elementary mascot," Young said, adding that district PTA members felt it was fairer than picking one of the old mascots and abandoning the other. "Everybody agreed the Riverhawk was a really nice mascot for that school."
After Evans Valley closed, the district placed all kindergartners through third-graders at the old elementary school, fourth- through sixth-graders at the old middle school across the street, and seventh- through 12-graders at the high school.
Adopting a new mascot for the elementary school will not mean any additional costs to the school district, Young said. Officials said they intentionally did not choose a Native American symbol because of the Oregon Board of Education's ban on such mascots last year, deeming them discriminatory images that promoted stereotypes.
"Since we had to go through the process of finding a new mascot, it made a lot of sense to choose a mascot that wouldn't have to necessarily be changed right back out," Young said.
All districts with Native American logos must change by 2017 or risk the loss of state funding. That includes Rogue River Jr./Sr. High School, whose mascot is the Chieftain.
A state bill that would allow school districts to use Native American logos as long as they have written permission from the closest tribe was passed by both the House and Senate, but Gov. John Kitzhaber has promised to veto Senate Bill 215 because he considers it too broad. He said in a memo he would support a model "that would permit school districts and federally designated tribes to agree to the use of mascots, names and symbols that are associated with the particular tribe entering into the agreement."
The Rogue River School District awaits the outcome.
"Not only is it going to be fairly expensive if we have to change everything over, but I believe we have a pretty good history of being respectful," Young said. "At this point, we are kind of adopting a wait-and-see stance to find out if we actually have to make the change."
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.