South Burlington's new mascot celebrated at spirit week

Published: Oct. 4, 2017 at 4:33 PM EDT
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Teacher contracts haven't been the only recent cause of controversy in South Burlington. Getting rid of the Rebel mascot last year deeply divided the community. After years of debate, the Wolves celebrated their new mascot during spirit week.

A schoolwide assembly doesn't happen often, but faculty, teachers, and students came together Wednesday to meet the new face of their school.

"The wolf was really cute," said student Cam Angwin, who along with the rest of the student council and Principal Patrick Burke, wanted to lift students spirits by introducing them to a live wolf from the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge.

"You know we didn't really know how it was going to go, and I thought it was great," Burke said.

Kiska, a 3-year-old gray wolf, paced the stage while her handlers spoke about the significance of wolves in an ecosystem. The event was designed to usher in a new chapter into the high school's story, a story that has had its share of conflict over the past few years.

Flashback to 2015 for the latest round in the debate about the Rebel nickname. Some students said the name didn't negatively effect any student in any way. Other students, like Issiah Hines, was leading the charge for change. "No one intended the rebel name to be exclusive and racially insensitive and yet the harmful effects are very real," Hines told WCAX News last year.

Vermont's NAACP even got involved. "How dare you want your kids to define that name and carry it on so that it can live. It's nothing but hate," said Mary Brown-Guillory.

The Rebel alliance fought back. The Rebel issue was even used as a smoke screen for a series of threats that sent schools into lockdown. Prosecutors say student Josiah Leach made threats via video, vowing to kill people in the school community if they got rid of the Rebels. Ultimately Principal Burke left it to the students.

The Wolves won the day and today Burke says South Burlington is proud to be part of the pack. "It's a community that has always valued youth and education, and that continues to be true. We are off to a great start and really looking forward to having that continue," he said.