The Marysville School Board on Aug. 4 approved facilitators and a “student-centered” plan for the mascot change process for Totem Middle School and Marysville-Pilchuck High School.

A recently passed Washington state law requires all schools that use Native American mascots, symbols or logos to replace them by the end of the year.

In Marysville those schools are Totem Middle School, which uses the thunderbird as a mascot, and Marysville-Pilchuck High School, which uses the tomahawk as a symbol.

The process approved on Aug. 4 will be facilitated the consultant group Ideal Communications and is meant to be led by students, parents and community members.

An ad hoc committee at each school will lead discussions to brainstorm mascot ideas, eventually narrow those ideas down and then work with graphic design professionals to develop the new mascot images.

A smaller steering committee at each school will establish meeting schedules and outreach.

Students, parents, community members and school board members are meant to be a part of each committee.

The two committees are scheduled to kick off meetings later in August, with community meetings opening in September and going through December.

“We know we’re operating with a state law that requires us to have this work done by the end of the calendar year,” said J. Marie Riche with Ideal Communications. “This will be a relatively fast process."

She hopes the number of community members and students involved will be able to move the process along quickly.

“We’re approaching with the idea that many hands make for light work,” said Riche.

Mary Fertakis with Ideal Communications, said she has personal experience with the process.

“I attended a high school that went through this process about 20 to 25 years ago in Seattle,” she said. “One of the things we learned in that process was to make no assumptions. The outcome was not something people had anticipated would happen."

Fertakis hopes to highlight student voices during the process.

“It’s really critical to center those who are going to be the most impacted and ensure that their voices are heard,” she said. 

School board president Vanessa Edwards appreciated that the facilitators are planning to take students seriously during the process.

“It’s going to be on their shirts, it’s going to be what they see every day, so I like that they are going to be the center of this,” said Edwards.

Riche said outreach will be important in getting all those interested to come to the table.

“One of the names of the game for this particular process is to make sure we get the whole system in the room with us,” she said.

Fertakis said this is a project that will leave a legacy for the school and community.

“Schools are a focal point of community,” she said. “There’s an emotional attachment.”

Some community members were already ready to contribute to the process, such as one speaker at the board’s Aug. 4 meeting from the Marysville-Pilchuck High School Class of ’87, who said members of the class are willing to replace the sign outside the school they had originally given as a class gift.

“I was a little stunned to hear from the class of ’87 and how willing they were to replace the sign they had donated,” said school board member Jake Murray. “I hope we get as good a reaction from the community as a whole."

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