Forms are now available for community members to suggest what they believe Skowhegan Area High School’s new mascot should be.

The suggestion forms are available both online and on paper and will be available in town offices and schools across the district and the Skowhegan Free Public Library and the Chamber of Commerce building. Paper forms will be available in all of the towns by the end of the week.

Each form asks each individual to check whether or not they are a resident of the district, and then asks for suggestions for the nickname. Additionally, participants have the opportunity to share comments about name suggestions and to upload imagery. On this form community members may also decide not to have a new mascot and to instead remain Skowhegan.

This is the first part of a multi-step process that was decided by the school board. The process was introduced last fall after the board voted 14-9 to retire the ‘Indians’ mascot. There is no official date set for when the suggestion process will end, though school board chairperson Lynda Quinn says that the suggestion forms will be available for four to six weeks.

Community members have said that only people from the SAD 54 communities should have the opportunity to offer suggestions, but SAD 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry defended the board’s decision to allow non-residents to make suggestions, saying that no matter how many forms are received, it is not a weighted process.

The entire process will be done in chunks following a suggestion at the Dec. 5, 2019, board meeting.

The process begins with the school administration accepting suggestions from students, parents, community members, businesses, coaches, staff and alumni.

From there, administrative staff will collect the suggestions and filter through them to make sure that they are consistent with school board policies and statutes of two school board committees.

Once the Support Services Committee and Education Policy and Programming Committee review the suggestions, they are tasked to each bring five options forward for consideration.

From there, students in grades six through 12 will be given an opportunity to provide their feedback.

“We want it largely driven by kids,” the superintendent has said, “and we want them to have an opportunity to give feedback before we make a final selection.”

Once students weigh in, the two school board committees will reconvene to review feedback to make a final recommendation to the school board for consideration, where it will go to a vote.

While it is unclear how long the effort is likely to take, Colbry has said at board meetings that if a new mascot is selected, it will be implemented for the 2020-21 school year.

“Whenever we start the process, we start,” Quinn has said. “We have adopted the procedure and everyone has been able to weigh in on the board. I do not want to hear after the fact that people didn’t have the time to vote.”

MSAD 54 serves the towns of Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Smithfield.

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