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The City Journals

Murray School District launches new logos, two schools name new mascots

Sep 13, 2021 11:26AM ● By Julie Slama

The announcement of the new Lion mascot brought cheers from Longview Elementary students. (Becky Te’o/Longview Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

When you look beyond the school buildings and improved technology, and aside from changes because of COVID-19, much has changed in Murray School District the past few months.

At Riverview Junior High, last year’s student newspaper editors became aware that the school’s previous mascot, the Rebels, was being examined, so the staff changed its newspaper name from The Rebel to The Riverview Rush.

New mascot possibilities were discussed and students learned the value of a school mascot and what it stands for before they and voted on ballots put together by journalism teacher and instructional coach Heather Wihongi. When it came time for the reveal in April, her journalism students took photos and wrote articles.

“We did an article about how it was changed, and the school pushed out a survey – ‘what are your ideas for mascot and how does it relate to Murray,’” said Paisley Mitchell, who was one of the ’20-’21 newspaper editors and thought the Royals might be the new mascot. “We ended up being the Riverview Raptors so we wrote articles about the survey that was pushed out and an article about the new Raptors and what that would mean and how it kind of changed us a little bit.”

A survival handbook was Riverview’s yearbook theme last year, so they added a claw mark to the back cover to carry it through to the last page, said ’20-’21 yearbook editor Kennedy Adams.

“It was like insane when our mascot ended up being the Raptors because it tied in with the claw mark without it even being planned,” she said.

In a time when many schools, colleges and professional teams are changing their mascots, Murray School District spokesman Doug Perry said, “Maybe the Rebels isn’t quite the right image that we want to portray for the junior high” and talking about that change “dovetailed into what we wanted to do with the district.”

Although there was talk of changing the mascot before, as well as the logos, the movement got pushed to a backburner during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now Riverview and other school logos also have been updated not only to include the new mascots, but also to have consistency throughout the district.

“There was a lot of inconsistency in the style, the design, the approach,” Perry said. “A school district should be as unified as possible. Murray’s really unique in that we have just one high school. We have a fairly close-knit community that is fairly autonomous from other school districts. We wanted to look unified; we wanted to look uniform; we wanted to look professional.”

Embarking on that concept last fall, and working on it this past spring, Perry and two student interns examined logos and styles. They decided to base all the logos on Murray High’s, which was the most current and modern.

“We patterned it after the high school logo and yet, still gave each school a little bit of autonomy in terms of their own mascots and color,” he said, adding that the district’s logo has yet to be redesigned. 

School names and mascots and the tagline, “We are Murray,” can be used together or if a school just wants to use its mascot, either are acceptable, he said, adding that the change will be gradual, which allows schools to use letterhead and printed items with the old logos until they’re depleted.

Before the new logos, Perry opened up the possibility for schools to change school mascots or colors before those logos were set in place. Longview Elementary took him up on it.

“Over the past few years, the things I was hearing from all stakeholders — parents, students, staff and other community members — about what they wanted for students at Longview didn’t really match what the mission and vision were,” Longview Principal Becky Te’o said. “With the 2021-2022 school year being the 60th anniversary of Longview, I felt it would be the perfect time to dig into what we all want Longview students to experience and ‘be’ when they leave Longview.”

After conducting surveys from all stakeholders, the results shows “Beyond the academic excellence that we all wanted for students, a strong undercurrent in all responses was a desire for unity and for students to have a sense of belonging and community,” she said. “A Lynx is a predominantly solitary animal and that seemed contrary to what we would be interweaving into our new mission and vision.”

Te’o learned that the Lynx came about in the 1990s, after a former principal grew frustrated with the blue-and-white school colors and Cougar mascot being likened to Brigham Young University. 

So Te’o then asked for mascot and color suggestions from classes and staff.

“Some fun suggestions like Heroes, Unicorns and Ligers were submitted. Ultimately, we narrowed it down to the top six repeating choices, which were: Llamas, Lynx, Leopards, Lions, Lizards and Penguins,” she said.

A vote was narrowed down to the top three mascot choices — Penguins, Lions or remain the Lynx. The three top color choices were black and gold; orange and black; or red, gold and white.

A final vote was held, and Te’o revealed the winners at an assembly. The Longview Lions won with 75 percent of the vote and the new colors red, gold and white received 85 percent of the votes. 

“We are excited to stay true to Longview tradition with big cat mascots, while being able to make these changes as we move into the future,” she said, adding that a male lion was chosen for the mascot as its mane is easily recognized in the identification of the mascot. “Having a school mascot helps to provide a sense of unity throughout the school and community, but it also helps in creating school spirit and school pride. It was so much fun to go through this process and experience the energy and excitement throughout the entire building. The cheers during our reveal assembly were priceless.”