Kate Furbish School is on track to open in 2020 and will serve 660 students from pre-K through second grade. PDT Architects

BRUNSWICK — The Brunswick School Board voted unanimously Thursday to adopt the chickadee as the new Kate Furbish Elementary School mascot, reversing last week’s controversial decision to dub the students dragonflies, after significant community push back. 

Coffin Elementary School students voted in December after a school-wide assembly, deciding their favorite of three mascot candidates — the dragonfly, the honey bee and the chickadee. The students, who will attend Kate Furbish when it opens next year, placed chips in the cup of their top choice, proudly donning “I voted” stickers after the election. 

School-wide and classroom newsletters and even a poem were sent home, announcing that the chickadee had been selected by an “overwhelming majority” to be the new mascot. 

But school board members voted Jan. 22 to adopt the dragonfly as the school mascot, partly to unify the district’s school mascots and colors. The Brunswick High School mascot is the dragon, and the two school’s colors will both be orange and black. 

The decision raised some concerns, with parents, teachers and community members expressing disappointment about the message the board was sending to children about democracy and the importance of their voices. 

“It may seem like a small thing to you, but it is not a small thing to our children now or in their future, as they learn what it is to be a part of a community, as they learn about democracy,” Megan Angelos, a parent of a kindergarten student at Coffin wrote in an email to the board. 

But board members said Thursday they did not have the full story before they voted, and thought the student election had been more informal. 

“We all make mistakes,” board Chairman Jim Grant said during the 15-minute meeting. “The board made a mistake.” 

Elizabeth Sokoloff was among the four board members who voted in favor of aligning the mascots, but said she did not realize the students voted with the understanding that their choice would be the final decision, nor did she know the time and commitment the teachers made to create the voting experience for the kids. They were lead to believe that if they wanted to align the school mascots, it would be easier to make the change sooner rather than later. She said she later learned that is not necessarily the case. 

“Now that I know what I know … I am fully prepared to change my vote tonight,” she said, adding that the school board members are all hard working, thoughtful and “dedicated to the kids of this community.” 

School board members thanked the many parents and residents who reached out with concerns and suggested that the people present at Thursday night’s meeting should continue to speak up and should attend more school board meetings, especially during budget season. 

“It does make a difference to be engaged and involved in your community,” Sokoloff said. 

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