Bountiful High School’s new mascot is the Redhawks.
Principal Aaron Hogge made the announcement on YouTube Friday, culminating several months of study and community input to inform the selection of a new “culturally sensitive mascot.”
“A red-tailed hawk is the most common hawk species in North America. It can be spotted soaring above the rural areas from coast to coast. The identifying characteristics of these hawks are keen eyesight, binocular vision and powerful talons. It is one of the biggest birds of prey found in the mountains above Bountiful,” Hogge said.
The school’s new logo is near completion, he said, displaying an early version created by graphic artists.
The school’s mascot will remain in place for the rest of this academic year with the Class of 2021 the last to graduate as “Braves.” Neither the school’s colors of red and gray nor the school song will change.
Once the school year ends, administrators will focus more attention to placing the new logo about the school.
Until then, administrators and educators have a full plate working with students who have struggled academically during the pandemic, testing, end-of-year activities and for administrators, hiring teachers for the upcoming school year.
“The mascot is something we’re kind of doing on the side. We don’t want it to be ‘the show.’ It should be the accent that really unifies and gets everyone excited about being part of Bountiful High School,” Hogge said.
Hogge said red-tailed hawks occasionally fly above the school. For the planned logo including the hawk, the Bountiful block letter “B” on the hillside and a depiction of the ridge line is “pretty exciting. I think it’s a pretty natural logo to step right into.”
The process to select a new mascot was initiated after Hogge announced on Nov. 30 that the Braves mascot would be retired. This past summer, alumni and others raised concerns that the Braves mascot was culturally insensitive and inappropriate.
A change.org petition launched by alumna Mallory Rogers last summer said the mascot is “offensive, outdated and racist” and called for a change from the Braves, which dates back to 1951.
Rogers said the selection of the Redhawks is exciting.
The organization Change the Mascot UT was “happy to see it announced today and we’re looking forward to watching it be implemented over the next school year,” Rogers said.
Rogers said she was particularly grateful for the efforts by Hogge and the school district to conduct an inclusive and thorough process of examining the impacts of the Braves mascot and opportunities for stakeholders to speak out on their preferences.
“I just really appreciate the way they’ve approached this,” she said.
In August, school administrators organized a 25-member committee that worked for months discussing and researching the impacts of using a Native American mascot.
The committee included students and parents, faculty members, school district representatives, tribal representatives, the Utah State Board of Education’s Indian education specialist, academics from Salt Lake Community College, and Utah Valley University, as well as a leader of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women Task Force.
Davis School District spokesman Christopher Williams noted that in recent years there’s been a movement to remove the Native American mascots in professional sports teams, colleges and universities as well as high schools.
In 2020, the Washington Redskins organization announced it was changingits team name and logo amid public and corporate pressure to do away with the moniker over racial connotations. The NFL franchise is now called the Washington Football Team.
In November, Hogge announced he had arrived at the decision to retire the school’s mascot.
Hogge, in his fourth year as principal, has slowly moved away from using a Native American male as a logo, shifting to a block B and an arrow or a feather. The school painted over several images that depicted Native American figures.
At the start of the current school year, administrators also announced that no student would appear at athletic events wearing Native American costumes, which had been a longtime practice at football and basketball games.
When Hogge announced the mascot’s retirement, he said the school community would embark on a process to select “a culturally sensitive mascot that will unite all in unity, respect, honor, courage, bravery and excellence in the classroom and on the stage, court or field.”
In February, the school sought public input by surveying students and members of the public on their preferences, using the results to help guide the administration’s decision on the new mascot.
The survey asked participants to select their top choice among the Bears, Blazers/Trailblazers, Lightning/Bolts and Redhawks.
Community members suggested more than 100 names with the Brave as the most recommended. Williams said that name was eliminated from consideration because it was too close to the existing mascot’s name.
Williams said surveys indicated that Redhawks was the top choice among the final four mascots considered.
Hogge acknowledged that change is hard and he appreciated the input of all stakeholders who brought differing perspectives to the process.
“The nice thing about a school system is we have a summer to really regroup and just start fresh with a new group of students and we’re excited about that,” Hogge said.