Raptors and Mountaineers emerged as the Bozeman School Board’s leading contenders to be the mascot of new Gallatin High School, despite Timberwolves ranking No. 1 in a poll of students.

School board trustees held a special meeting Monday night to discuss what the new school’s mascot and colors should be when Bozeman’s second high school opens in the fall of 2020.

Superintendent Rob Watson presented the results of two polls – one of 429 students who will attend the new school and the other an online survey open to the entire community, which received 2,755 responses.

The school board took no votes, but trustees made it clear they had big objections to two of the surveys’ five choices – Rams and Timberwolves.

Trustees Heide Arneson, Sandy Wilson and Tanya Reinhardt said they wouldn’t choose Rams because it’s too gender specific.

“Thirty years ago we didn’t know better, now we do,” Reinhardt said. “We don’t want the Rams and Ewes.”

Timberwolves was No. 1 in the student poll, preferred by 39% of those voting. Next in the student poll were the Raptors (dinosaurs) 25%, and Rams 17%. Mountaineers got only 10% from students. Osprey was last in both polls with 9%.

The community online poll had Raptors at No. 1 with 29.4%, followed closely by Mountaineers with 28.7%. Timberwolves got 18% and Rams 15%.

School administrators and trustees have said all along they want to give heavy weight to what students want.

But School Board Chair Andy Willett said it’s unfortunate that students preferred Timberwolves because he feels it would be “disrespectful” to Three Forks, where the mascot is the Wolves, and Glacier High, which has the Wolfpack. Reinhardt said that would go against the school district policy — that Bozeman shouldn’t pick a mascot that would overlap with another Gallatin County or another large Montana AA high school.

“I would never support Rams or Timberwolves,” Willett said.

If Mountaineers were chosen, Bozeman would avoid a logo of a man wearing buckskin and a beard and carrying a gun, said Steve Johnson, deputy superintendent.

Reinhardt said a Mountaineer could instead be a figure with “ropes, crampons and ice axes.” Trustee Gary Lusin said he thinks Mountaineer “would signify what high school is about – grit, courage, determination to get to the top.”

Reinhardt said she’d like to reconsider Cougar, which was in the top six picks among students and school staff in earlier surveys. But Arneson said trustees need to respect the Gallatin Valley Homeschool association, which has Cougar as its mascot.

Watson said the large Transition Committee, which has been working on plans for opening the new high school, will meet Tuesday night to consider trustees’ comments and try to come up with a recommendation that could go back to the school board for a vote at its May 13 meeting.

The committee will also forward a recommendation on the new school’s colors, which looks like a much easier decision. “Black and royal blue” won 45% approval in both the community and student polls, way ahead of the other three color combinations offered. Erica Schnee, principal of the new school, displayed T-shirts with the four color combinations.

Asked what a dinosaur Raptor logo might look like, Johnson showed a logo from one school that featured a fierce looking velociraptor flashing sharp teeth. He also showed photos of the Toronto Raptors basketball team mascot – a large reddish plush dinosaur somewhat reminiscent of Barney. Whatever mascot is chosen, school leaders would have a lot to say about how it would look.

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.

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