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Some in Rutland embrace Ravens while others fight for return to Raiders

Published: Jun. 7, 2021 at 5:42 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 6:36 PM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - Discussion about the Rutland City Public Schools mascot continues. The School Board of Commissioners voted to change the Raiders mascot and logo to the Ravens last fall. But people are questioning whether the process was legitimate.

Monday night, Ravens supporters gathered to embrace the new mascot. The groups running the event are giving away shirts and other souvenirs with the new name, all with the goal to move the Rutland community forward as one.

But there are some community members who continue to work toward returning to the Raiders name and logo of the past.

“We’re going to fight this fight to the end,” said Thomas DePoy, a Rutland City Board of Aldermen member who supports bringing back the Raiders name and mascot.

DePoy believes the newly elected school board members will succeed in reversing the decision to remove the name.

“They can have all the rallies they want. As long as the people of the city of Rutland have voted-- and overwhelmingly-- for the candidates that were in favor of changing the name back to Raiders, then their point is moot,” DePoy said.

Some people involved in Monday night’s event are students.

“For sure! It’s good that students have a voice in this process,” Rutland City Public Schools Superintendent Bill Olsen said.

Olsen says a group of high school students worked hard for months determining possible mascot names. The student body then voted on approved names.

But the students have never been asked as a whole if they want the Raiders name and logo to be eliminated.

Reporter Olivia Lyons: The ad hoc committee, do they have any intentions of just surveying the current kids? Not any of the alumni or people who are past Raiders, but just the current kids to see what they want?

Bill Olsen: I don’t think so. I don’t think that’s their task. Their task which was given to them by the board chair was to look at the process that was used in September and October.

But according to DePoy, unofficial surveys have found a majority of this year’s seniors want to graduate as Raiders.

“We’re finding that it’s in the neighborhood of 60%-70% of those kids want to be Raiders as they graduate. I don’t know the underclass kids because we really haven’t focused on them at this point,” DePoy said.

There is a scheduled meeting for community members supporting both sides to address the school board coming up.

The Monday event goes until 7 p.m. in the Center Street Marketplace.

Now, this all started with a vote by the Rutland Public Schools Board of School Commissioners.

Last October, the board voted to change the mascot name and logo.

In February, they approved the new name “Ravens,” selected by the students.

In March, the city voted new members onto the board running on the basis of reversing the mascot change.

Some members question whether the board’s rules were broken back in October when the original decision was made.

So how will the board come to a final decision?

A committee made of selected board members on both sides of the issue is working together. They are looking into the policy and procedure regarding changing the mascot, determining whether rules were broken this past fall and if the mascot change can be revisited or reconsidered.

On Tuesday night’s School Board agenda, the committee is giving a progress report.

A special meeting to hear more community input and talk only about the mascot is scheduled for June 22.

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