On January 18, 2023

New moniker is simply ‘Rutland’

By Katy Savage

Rutland School Board members settled the mascot debate on Jan. 10 and decided Rutland High School will simply be called “Rutland.” 

The approval of the name came after three years of contentious debate and community divide about what the mascot should be. The former Raiders mascot, deemed racist, was retired in August 2022. 

Principal Greg Schillinger suggested students were fed up with the discussion.

“There are a significant number of students that just really want to be done with this conversation,” Schillinger told the board on Jan. 10. “They want to stop and they want the adults to be done with this conversation.” 

The discussion about the name Rutland took place over two meetings and was presented as the name chosen by students. But some board members were disappointed the students settled on Rutland and didn’t present a mascot. 

Board member Marybeth Lennox-Levins, an associate professor at Castleton University and former soccer coach, said at a December meeting she wanted the students to have a mascot. 

“It would be great for kids to do what kids do and embrace a mascot,” she said at the Dec. 13 meeting. “I just think we owe the kids more and we can do better than not having a mascot.”

Board member Kevin Kiefaber argued the name “Rutland” wouldn’t satisfy the issue with the name “Raiders.”

“If we don’t replace it, people will continue calling us and our teams the Raiders,” he said in December. “I think that’s a racist situation. I don’t think doing that really addresses the issue.”

Schillinger explained “Rutland” was picked as the winner after three rounds of voting. The community was asked an open-ended question on the topic.

“Rutland” was the most suggested name at 34 times. The second most frequently requested name was mentioned just 12 times. 

The top names from the open-ended question were then put to a vote. About two-thirds of the school community voted in total. Schillinger said 43% voted for Rutland as the new name, 26% voted for Raptors, 15.8% for Ravens and 14.9% for Red Bulls.

Lennox-Levins said she was concerned for the students who voted against “Rutland.” 

“I’m a math nerd,” she said on Jan. 10. “I  look at it the other way around and 57% wanted a mascot, wanted something. I want to be confident this is what they want.” 

Schillinger assured the board in both meetings that “Rutland ” was the name students chose, while explaining nothing was going to satisfy the entire student body. He said the sports teams have been called “Rutland” by default since the Raiders name was retired and in choosing Rutland as a name, “there was a palpable sense of relief” among the students.

“What the students were describing was, ‘We are Rutland,’” Schillinger said in December. “The young people of Rutland are the future of the community. We are Rutland. We want to honor and respect our community. They talked about the need to do it right now. This is different, this is not like everyone else and I like that.” 

Schillinger said he recently searched archived images of Rutland High School and saw a blocked “R.” He suggested students might use a similar “R” for imagery.

“That’s been there for more than a century,” he said.

The name was approved on Jan 10 after an original motion to delay the vote again until June received some pushback.

“We’re talking about semantics between moniker and mascot,” board member Charlene Seward said. “We move to June and then what? We’re going to talk about it again?”

Cathy Solsaa was the only board member to vote against the Rutland name. Solsaa argued earlier in the meeting that a vote wasn’t needed since there was no mascot. 

“We are already Rutland. Rutland appears on our uniforms…I don’t think we need to vote on approving Rutland,” she said. 

Board member Karen Bossi argued against Solssa and said a vote was needed. 

“I think it’s very important that we conclude this,” she said, suggesting the debate would only continue in June. 

The school board is asking the students to design a moniker by June to be approved by the School Board. 

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