Belding Area Schools whittles down mascot search to 3 finalists

BELDING, Mich. (WOOD) — Belding Area Schools has narrowed down the search for a new mascot to three finalists.

The school board voted unanimously in December to get rid of the district’s controversial Redskins mascot.

“We’re not asking anybody to change the experience they had while they were in school. We’re not asking anybody to bring their diploma back and have a word changed on their varsity jacket. We’re not doing that, but what we do want them to think about is those memories they had while they were here,” Belding High School Principal Michael Ostrander said. “(That) probably didn’t have as much to do with the word ‘Redskins’ as it did Belding… so that’s the most important element for us.”

Earlier this month, a student committee picked the top 10 options for the community to vote on. Working with a group of students and community representatives, the district eliminated the Belding Black Hawks and Pride from the top 10 finalists “due to the potential negative, damaging, or hurtful connotations of those names,” according to Ostrander.

“The group felt it would not be prudent to continue down a path from which we have worked so hard to distance ourselves,” he added in Friday’s news release.

Ostrander Friday announced the top three choices: the Belding Black Knights, Belding Bengals and Belding Bruins. People have until 11:59 p.m. on Feb. 16 to vote on the top three.

The community is now asked to cast another vote based on those choices and sample artwork for the new mascot.

According to the new survey, the sample artwork for each mascot is not the final design. Ostrander said the district will tap local and national artists to create the final logo, color, font and branding elements for the winning mascot.

They hope to finalize everything by spring, but more time will be needed to determine what the district will do with school statues engraved with the Redskins name and logo.

Ostrander said they will work with the families who donated the statues to determine the best option. He said they are considering working with the local museum to have them moved.

Local moving businesses have already offered to help if they decide to relocate the statues, so taxpayer or general fund money will not be used.