So much for students not liking snakes.
Close to 50 Fort Mill School District students gathered Wednesday to focus group school mascot choices for the coming Catawba Ridge High School. Their top choice — Copperheads — was the favorite for nearly half the group.
The top three choices now go to the school board for final approval.
Along with the clear favorite in Copperheads, students picked Coyotes and War Birds from a list of 10 options. Just missing out was Pride, followed alphabetically by Raiders, Rapids, Rattlers, Riverdogs and Vipers.
It was the second time students gathered and picked Copperheads, but a group of adults looking over the choices changed the pick to Rattlers over concerns of how the name might be shortened. Then, a tie ensued when the school board voted on whether or not to pick Rattlers after considerable public comment against the mascot and what at the time was a green and gold color scheme.
The group of students convening Wednesday at Fort Mill Middle School was an idea the board had to try again, after the first naming process yielded about 1,300 entries.
“They thought students, middle school and high school, should be the voice of that,” said district assistant superintendent Tommy Schmolze, who led the process Wednesday.
Many parents, online or in direct communication with board members including at a recent school board meeting, expressed a dislike of any snake mascot. Many said their daughters wouldn’t want to wear snake athletic or school spirit gear.
“I don’t know why,” Nation Ford student Joely Yzquierdo said. “I know plenty of girls who have snakes for pets. I don’t get it.”
Gold Hill Middle School student Lennox London said snake or no snake, students would get behind the mascot.
“Either way, no matter what the mascot is, you have to support it,” she said. “It’s your school.”
Schmolze agrees. Throughout the process he pointed to the Yellow Jacket mascot at Fort Mill High School. It serves the school well, though the actual animal may not be one people like to come across in nature. While some have hangups over snakes, he believes one could make a good mascot.
“The thing is, once it gets established, all the angst goes away,” Schmolze said.
Students may come to the next school board meeting to explain why they opted for their various picks. While Copperheads came with ideas for naming athletic fields and a “fang gang” student section, other students preferred the local history of War Birds or the prevalence of Coyotes.
“A lot of people wanted War Birds because it’s how Fort Mill was made,” said Fort Mill High student Amanda Ledford.
War Birds refers to the World War I flying ace Col. Elliott Springs, who led Springs Industries and whose family is responsible for the Anne Springs Close Greenway, among other local landmarks.
Some board members expressed a liking for War Birds, but also for putting a heavy weight to the student pick. Part of the reason Rattlers didn’t get voted into existence is board members saw it as a compromise to what students actually wanted in the first place, with Copperheads.
The next scheduled school board meeting is Aug. 1.