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And then there were 16 ... Time for community to weigh in on finalists for new Turners team name

  • Turners Falls High School is at 222 Turnpike Road in Montague. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE

  • The Turners Falls football team warms up during the first practice of the fall 2017 season. Recorder file photo



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, March 07, 2018

TURNERS FALLS — Turners Falls residents are being encouraged to vote on the 16 finalists for the high school’s new mascot.

The task force charged with finding a new mascot has published a poll on its Facebook page, found at TFHS Logo/Nickname Task Force, so residents can vote for their favorite names.

The Gill-Montague Regional School Committee, over the objection of many area residents and alumni, last year eliminated Indians as a name and logo for its sports teams.

The 16 finalists are: Blue Herons, Blue Jays, Chargers, Coyotes, Falcons, Great Blue Herons, Powertown, Powertown Pride, Powertown Turbines, Pride, Raptors, Snappers, Thunder, Thunderbirds, Torrents and Turbines.

The logo task force whittled the previous list of 41 names down to 16. All task force members were present to vote on reducing the list.

Each task force member had 14 votes, all of which could be cast for a single name, or divided among the candidates.

“I tried to think about which of these things actually had a chance of making it, or what I thought the general public would find as a good compromise,” said task force member Alana Martineau. “I tried to spread my votes out a bit.”

After the first round of votes, the suggestions were cut to 28. Any names with no votes were removed from the list. Task force members voted again, this time using 10 votes each, and 16 names remained.

“There’s still a lot of things on there that people felt pretty strongly about,” Martineau said.

Now, the task force wants to hear from the public.

“We want to know what excites people, what confuses people, what do they love,” she said.

According to Martineau, the poll has reached more than 7,000 people, but she isn’t sure how many votes have been cast yet.

Martineau hopes the community will become more involved before voting ends and expressed frustration that many of the people who took offense at the previous name haven’t participated in task force meetings or in the process of coming up with a new nickname.

“We had all of these people who came in and forced this change to happen, and then they disappeared,” she said. “Where are you now?”

Ten residents are a part of the logo task force, including a single student from TFHS.

While a final decision date is not set, Martineau says some community members, herself included, have expressed interest in putting the official vote on the May election ballot. Others, however, want the decision to be made sooner, so the logo decision isn’t a driving factor in School Committee elections.

Double meanings

Beginning at the School Committee meeting last week when committee members reviewed 136 suggested names, concerns arose about suggested names that could have double meanings. Names related to cats were eliminated due to the concern of some members that students could turn a feline-related mascot into inappropriate taunts.

A name that has made the final 16 has also drawn criticism from the public. “Snappers” can also be a vulgar slang term, and Facebook comments on the logo task force page show concern from various people who are encouraging the task force to research the names before approving them.

Martineau expressed frustration at seemingly innocuous names being nixed due to their possible connotations.

“You can’t own all the words,” she said. “At some point, we have to be adults here. You can pretty much pick apart anything.”

Involving the community

“It’s really important to the task force that we involve the community as much as possible,” Martineau said. “It’s really difficult to get an authentic vote without putting it to a referendum, but then you’re only polling taxpayers (and not students).

“We also need a student vote and an alumni vote. How that all factors in and how we make the vote authentic is really important to the (task force) but not an easy answer.”

The next task force meeting will be held March 19. All of its meetings are open to the public.

According to Martineau, the next step will be to get an authentic community vote.

“Not everybody is going to like everything but we have to find a good compromise,” she said. “If people don’t like it, they need to get involved. Facebook rants aren’t going to fix anything.”

Feedback regarding the remaining candidates can be shared on the Logo Taskforce Facebook page or sent to: feedback@tfhslogo.com

Reach Christie Wisniewski at: cwisniewski@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 280