In September, the Pocatello-Chubbuck School District No. 25's Board of Trustees voted to retire the Pocatello High School Indians mascot at the end of this school year. Tonight, after months of debates, public surveys and work sessions the board made a surprising decision.
Tuesday night, District 25's school board members unanimously voted to approve a mascot that will replace the Pocatello Indians in June 2021. Before they voted, the floor was turned over for public comment.
In past meetings, dozens of people filled the district office to voice their opinion on the change. Tuesday, only three showed up, and all had a message with a similar theme.
Randy'L Teton spoke on behalf of the Fort Hall Business Council saying, "I am here to provide the support to your efforts of changing the Pocatello High School's school mascot."
Another tribal member, Jessica James, who is the manager for the Tribal Youth Education Program offered her support to the board as well. "As we know, we have about... approximately 800 Native American students that attend the Pocatello school district," she stated. "So, we appreciate your efforts."
A student from Pocatello High also thanked the board for "finally" making the decision to retire the old mascot and advocated for his choice of replacement. "Phantoms actually do represent Pocatello High School history," said Luke Smith. "Being haunted is our thing. It is one of our many characteristics that sets us apart from any other school."
When it came time for the board to make a decision, there was a surprise. Earlier this month, the board juggled the idea of choosing between "Bison" and "Phantoms" as the new mascot. At this meeting, board member Jim Facer -- as well as the other board members -- expressed concern about choosing one of those two options. He said, "I kind of worry about that down the road."
The solution, to choose a third option: "Pocatello Thunder." The board agreed that Thunder was the best option of the five total they had to pick from to replace Indians. They unanimously approved Thunder without deciding on the imagery that will accompany the new name. "I think Thunder is very versatile and opens lots of doors for lots of different interpretations depending what's trending or what kids are excited about," added Pocatello High Principal Lisa Delonas.
During Tuesday's board meeting, the district also talked about reaching out to Nike to ask for help with designing the new name. The board did not decide on any particular method for choosing the imagery/logos that will symbolize the new name. That decision may be left for the students to decide.