First there were Yellow Jackets, then Falcons. And here come, perhaps, the Rattlers.
The Fort Mill School Board received a recommendation from district staff Tuesday night to christen a new mascot, the Catawba Ridge High School Rattlers. A final vote is expected next month.
"We were going to do Copperheads, but there's some alliteration and everything,” said board member Patrick White. “It just got to be too much. The snake, the kids love that. They love the colors."
Those colors and name still have to be determined. But Rattlers stood out as the leading candidate for staff after rounds of input.
Rattlers wasn’t chosen from a book of native species. Looking around at other area high school and professional teams, the board figured it didn’t have to be.
“We had a lot of discussion (prior to Tuesday),” White said.
“There’s not too many Trojans in Rock Hill. I've never seen that many Bearcats in Rock Hill, or rattlesnakes in Fort Mill. I've never seen a Panther in Charlotte. But once it’s out there people latch onto it, and the kids like it which is one of the main things.”
Catawba Ridge will open in 2019. Financing and building the district’s third high school was approved by voters as part of a $226.8 million bond referendum in 2015. Up to 2,400 students will be able to attend. The site off Fort Mill Parkway spans 103 acres.
Attendance lines, determining which of the three high schools students in different areas will attend, won’t be settled until late next year.
Catawba Ridge got its name in January with another school board vote. Its situation near the Catawba River, along with its topography, lent the moniker. A survey followed for almost the entire month of January to allow input on the mascot name.
Kelly McKinney, spokesperson for the district, said she’d heard of similarly vicious possibilities from Copperheads to Catamounts to Vipers. She heard a wide swath of colors were being considered. Some specific to certain mascots, others not. The decisions, she said, weren’t made lightly.
“They've had a committee,” McKinney said. “They also got input from parents and students.”
Even as of Tuesday afternoon, board member Tom Audette said he was mulling a few names and wanted to hear how the community feedback process fared among top candidates. He sees importance in choosing a name. But also, he said, in the long list of details needed to put a new high school on the ground and get it running at a high level.
"We’re looking good,” Audette said. “It's exciting times. There's a lot happening in this area. We’re running at the correct pace to keep up with the growth we're seeing.”