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Published: Tuesday, 6/2/2009

Stingray takes on Unicorn for mascot role at Elementary School in Bedford

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Student coucil officers say a Stingray, above, is favored as a mascot. Student coucil officers say a Stingray, above, is favored as a mascot.
STEPHAN SAVOIA / AP Enlarge

TEMPERANCE - The unicorn is a mythological and mysteriously beautiful beast with a single horn protruding from its head.

It's also the mascot of Smith Road Elementary School, a situation that doesn't sit well with a majority of the student body there, according to three sixth- grade students who petitioned the Bedford Public Schools Board of Education last week.

Hailey Cox, Tia Meechan, and Bryanne Teel asked the board to approve a change that would have Smith Road students known as the Stingrays instead of the Unicorns.

The girls, who are student council officers, also asked the board to authorize a change in the school's official colors to steel blue and silver from purple and yellow.

The girls said that in a survey they took at the school, the Stingrays was the favorite among students and teachers; Sharks finished second, and Snow Leopards third.

The unicorn mascot had fallen into disfavor, they said, because it was seen as sissified and has made Smith Road students victims of teasing.

"We have taken into consideration the feelings and opinions of students, teachers, and parents," the girls said in a prepared statement. "The number of people that would like to change the mascot is immense."

Carol Perz, principal at Smith Road, was there to support the students.

The board met as a committee of the whole and took no action. But President Shawna Smith said it would make a decision on the request before the school year was over.

During a brief discussion of the request, no board member expressed opposition to the mascot change. One of them, Kim Hooper, said: "If it doesn't cost much and it isn't controversial, I'm all for it."

The board and Superintendent Jon White praised the girls for their presentation and the extensive preparatory work they had done.

Mr. White said he had enjoyed a soup and sandwich lunch with the girls and described them as "wonderful" and "delightful."

In a budget update, Mr. White said the strapped district's financial numbers were constantly changing. "We're in such a state of flux in this state that it is difficult to nail down what we're going to do," he explained.

The Bedford schools are facing a projected $4 million budget deficit and have sent layoff notices to 18 teachers. Initially, the number of pink-slipped teachers was 46, but the district was able to recall 28 of them, according to Ken Graf, assistant superintendent of human resources.

The board has not yet decided how it will go about replacing Mr. White, who is retiring at the end of the month.

Ms. Smith recommended that until a new superintendent is hired, the board appoint an acting superintendent rather than an interim superintendent. An acting school chief, she explained, would be transferred from within the school district, while an interim one would be hired from outside.

Ms. Smith recommended that Ted Magrum, the assistant superintendent of finance and operations, be tapped to fill the acting position.

The board has scheduled a special meeting for June 11 at which representatives of the Monroe County Intermediate School District and the Michigan Association of School Boards will pitch their respective search services.

Contact Carl Ryan at:

carlryan@theblade.com,

or 419-724-6050.



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