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Students fired up about ‘Dragons’

Students fired up about ‘Dragons’

Visalia Unified board approves students’ pick of Denton Dragons for new elementary school


VISAIA – Dragons have long captured the imagination of children and their fascination with fantastical creatures. So it was no surprise that dragons was the student pick for the mascot of Visalia Unified School District’s newest school being built at the corner of Ferguson Street and Denton Avenue.

At its Nov. 13 meeting, the Visalia Unified School Board voted in favor of the mascot thanks to student representative Bailey Stewart, who seconded trustee Lucia Vazquez’s motion to approve. Vazquez did make one change by switching the Dragons colors from red and gold to green and gold.

“I’d rather see green dragons. On that side of town we still have some gang issues,” she said referring to common use of red and blue as gang colors.

Trustee Juan Guerrero, who represented the board on the naming committee, said he supported the name because it was the pick of the students.

“The kids really liked the dragons,” he said.

The board voted 4-1 in favor the Denton Elementary Dragons with the colors of green and gold. Trustee John Crabtree like a combination of both, the Denton Lions, regardless of the colors.

Trustee Charles Ulmschneider cast the lone dissenting vote on the name, opting for Parkview Lions. Ulmschneider, who is leaving the board after two terms, said he liked the Lions because it was a neutral mascot and that he wanted to be sure that the color green was included because it symbolized life.

Jacquie Gaebe, Area Superintendent of instructional services, said district staff surveyed students, parents and community members who presented ideas for the new school. The options were narrowed from a list of 200 names following two community meetings. The Naming Committee is made up of parents and students living in the school’s attendance area, school site employees, district administrators and community representatives. The finalists for the names were Denton and Parkview Elementary. Other names included Doe, Firehouse, Kaweah and Sierra Vista. The mascot finalists were narrowed to Lions and Dragons. Other names included Bobcats, Dalmations, Falcons, Firebirds and Kangaroos.

“The adults pushed heavily for the dalmations,” Geabe said because the school is located across the street from a fire station. “But the kids wanted the dragons.”

Adopted in 1997, the district’s policy regarding school names was revised 10 years ago and allows names to fall into three main categories: landmarks and regions; cultural and historical references to native plants; and after an individual. The latter comes with a list of restrictions meant to prevent the overuse of names. The individual must have been a resident of Visalia Unified School District and may only be a state or national figure if they lived in the area. The individual must have spent multiple decades working to specifically improve the communities served by the district through a local public school in the district, community development and the health and safety of youth. Only deceased individuals who have been gone for at least one year may be considered.

The new school is set to open August 2019. The new elementary school will be funded through $11 million in developer fees, fees paid to the district on new construction, along with $10 million in one-time funding from the State.

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