Red Devil mascot fires up controversy

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    By Spencer Parkinson

    The Springville Community Council decided last week, March 3-8, that the debate over the Springville High School Red Devil mascot is big enough to be passed on to the Nebo District School Board.

    “The community council unanimously voted in favor of it going to the school board,” said Mike Hicks, principal of Springville High School. “That is the only place this problem can ever be solved.”

    The debate over the mascot has been a recurring issue in the community ever since the Red Devil was first used as the school”s mascot more than 80 years ago, Hicks said.

    Superintendent Carl Nielsen of the Nebo School District said the name allegedly comes from the Red Devil Cement Company.

    “The company supposedly donated the cement to the original high school and thus they took on the name,” Nielsen said.

    Nielsen, who will be the messenger of the council”s vote, said the school board wants to find out what the feelings and opinions of the parents, adults and students are.

    “The Board of Education will study the issue and probably do a survey or a ballot and decide where it should go from there,” Nielsen said.

    The issue will be discussed only and no action will be taken at the school board”s meeting next Wed., March 13, Nielsen said.

    Nielsen said those in favor of changing the mascot view the Red Devil as being a negative role model and they want a more positive one.

    “It is not intended to be a religious symbol that promotes or discourages religion,” he said.

    The district has researched past cases throughout the country and it has been determined that this is a secular issue which doesn”t promote or obstruct any religious purpose, Nielsen said.

    “The supporters of the mascot are by far the majority,” Hicks said. “We graduate over 400 mighty Red Devils every spring, so you know there are a lot of people out there that like their mascot.”

    Michael Coe, 18, a senior at Springville High said he believes the students are in favor of keeping the Red Devil as the school mascot.

    “Students don”t want it to change,” Coe said. “We prefer the Red Devils.”

    There is no use changing it because of a few people and their feelings, he said.

    “Just because our mascot is the Red Devil doesn”t mean we are going to act like one,” Coe said.

    Hicks said that although this issue seems to come up every few years, it is getting a lot more interest now than it ever has before.

    “The people that are wanting to change the mascot are more organized this time than they have been before,” Hicks said.

    Mike Baer, a resident of Springville for eight years, is one of those in support of changing the mascot.

    He said when he goes to school events that his children are involved in, cheering for the Red Devils always leaves a bad taste in his mouth.

    “When cheers went up for the Red Devils, I had a hard time spitting those words out,” Baer said.

    A mascot should be something that is a rallying point, something people can relate to, he said.

    “Instead of bringing people together, it is dividing the community,” Baer said regarding the current mascot.

    “If it was an employee, you would fire it,” Baer said. “If it was a tool, you would throw it out, so let”s change it and get on with it.”

    Hicks said that although the supporters of changing the mascot have made a lot of progress, getting the school board to side with them will not be easy.

    “It will be a tough sell to change it,” Hicks said.

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