Erica Schnee

Principal Erica Schnee holds up a T-shirt showing the possible colors for Gallatin High School.

Raptors ruled as the top choice for new Gallatin High School’s mascot when a committee made recommendations Tuesday to the Bozeman School Board.

The 22-member committee — made up of parents, teachers, administrators and students — gave a unanimous thumbs-up for dinosaur Raptors, saying it was one of the top two choices in polls of both the community and students.

A large majority on the committee also voted to forward Timberwolves to the school board to consider, mainly because it was the No. 1 choice in a poll of 439 students in grades six to nine who will attend the new high school.

However, a large majority — at least 16 out of 22 — voted thumbs down against recommending Mountaineers, though it was one of the top two contenders in the community poll.

The committee agreed to reject the last two of the five finalists — Osprey, because it was the least favorite in polls, and Rams, because it is gender specific, making it awkward to use for girls’ teams.

When it came to the new school’s colors, the committee was one vote short of unanimous in recommending black and royal blue, the top choice in both community and student polls.

The recommendations will go next Monday night to the Bozeman School Board, which has the final say.

Committee members listed the pros and cons of each mascot choice, and Superintendent Rob Watson said he plans to bring all the comments to the school board.

The pros for Raptors were that dinosaurs are uniquely Montanan, they would have cool and educational links to the Museum of the Rockies, they ranked high in all polls, and they would give students a good chant — “Raptors! Raptors!”

In addition, no other large AA high schools have a Raptor mascot, the name is short enough to fit on jerseys, it wouldn’t create any gender problems, and it would give students a fierce mascot.

Some members suggested fossils could be imbedded in cement at the new school, which is still under construction.

Cons for Raptors were that it could be juvenile if the mascot ended up looking like Barney, there could be confusion with raptor birds, it could be difficult to come up with a logo, and raptors share DNA with the chicken.

Timberwolves has several pros — it was the students’ top choice, it’s a fierce mascot, it would be easy to make into a logo and it has a cool howl. The biggest drawbacks were that the name would likely be shortened in everyday use to Wolves, and another AA high school, Kalispell’s Glacier, has the Wolfpack mascot, and another Gallatin County school, Three Forks High, has the Wolves.

Mountaineers ranked high in the community poll, which drew 2,755 responses, but was near the bottom in the student poll. Pros were that it reflects Bozeman and its popular outdoor pastimes. Cons listed were that people tend to envision a Davy Crockett figure carrying a gun, which wouldn’t be gender neutral and could create a difficult message when school shootings are a concern. Mountaineer could refer to white settlers and conquest, committee members said, and students who aren’t outdoorsy might feel left out.

Some veterans have strongly favored Mountaineers as a reference to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division. Committee members said some people in the community would strongly support that but others would not. They expressed concern that the school board would feel a lot of pressure from adults who want to see a pro-military stand, while students would be less likely to turn out at public meetings to argue for their preferred choices.

Gail Schontzler can be reached at gails@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2633. Follow her on Twitter @gailnews.

Gail Schontzler covers schools and Montana State University for the Chronicle.

Support quality local journalism. Become a subscriber.

Subscribers get full, survey-free access to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's award-winning coverage both on our website and in our e-edition, a digital replica of the print edition.