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Published: Thursday, 5/2/2002

School board won't let flap over missile trigger action

PANDORA, Ohio - Pandora-Gilboa Superintendent Joanne Kerekes does not expect any quick decision on the fate of the school's controversial new mascot.

Several residents expressed to the board of education last week their concern about plans to hang a 26-foot deactivated missile in the lobby of the district's new school when it opens in early 2004.

“There's plenty of time for dialogue about it,” Ms. Kerekes said yesterday.

The superintendent gave a district resident the go-ahead this year to acquire the missile through his uncle, a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. It now is outside a local sandblasting business, where the owner has volunteered to clean it up and paint it.

“Obviously I didn't expect [the controversy],” Ms. Kerekes said. “We're a community that engages in dialogue about important issues, so we're listening to all sides of it.”

The debate is largely between those who see the missile as a destructive weapon that has no place in a school and those who want to paint it like a rocket to represent the school's athletic team mascot. “Some people view it as a symbol, a mascot. We paint it on the floor. We wear it on our lapels,” Ms. Kerekes said. “Other people view it as a weapon. That's the dilemma the board will face.”

Ms. Kerekes said some residents said last week that the football field would be a more appropriate site for the missile, and the board will consider that alternative.

The board's plan is to hang the missile in the lobby of the district's $17.3 million school that will house prekindergarten through grade 12 when it is completed in late 2003.

The state is picking up 74 percent of the project's cost through the Ohio School Facilities Commission.

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