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Canyons board rejects student vote, adopts Chargers as Draper mascot instead of Cougars

Published: Thursday, Jan. 19 2012 3:16 p.m. MST

DRAPER — Corner Canyon High will not be associated with derogatory references toward women, nor will it be "BYU North," according to the Canyons Board of Education.

The new school under construction in Draper will be the future home of the Chargers — not the Cougars as 23 percent of students requested — after the board's decision Tuesday.

"The board said this is a brand-new school and we want to unite the community. And if there's something out there that could divide it, let's not go there," said district spokeswoman Jennifer Toomer-Cook.

The board sought input on what colors, mascot and name the new school would have in December, ultimately deciding on Corner Canyon for a name and navy, silver and white for the colors. Mascot ballots were sent out to 4,300 kindergarten through eighth-grade students in Draper communities that will feed into the school.

Cougars received 273 votes, 180 students wanted Diamondbacks, 171 wanted Falcons and 141 wanted Raptors.

Some parents and patrons emailed and called board members, saying they were uncomfortable with the idea that their daughters on the drill team and on the cheerleading squad would be called Cougars — a slang reference for mature women who attract younger men.

Other parents and students said they didn't want to share a mascot with BYU, since the two schools' colors would already be similar. Still others didn't want the division that might come from "bringing up the BYU-Utah rivalry and unfortunately some of its underpinnings."

Former Draper resident Jordan, who wanted to be named only by his first name, said he's glad the district steered away from Cougars, but he wishes it would have at least chosen one of the other mascots on the student ballot.

"I feel like they shouldn't have made it a choice if they were going to choose something else," the former Alta student said. 

Ultimately, the board chose to be unique, Toomer-Cook said, by selecting a mascot that would be the only one of its kind it the state. There are several high schools in the state with Cougars as mascots, including Kearns High.

Considering Kearns could potentially be a competitor, Jordan said it's good Corner Canyon won't share a mascot with it.

"There shouldn't be two same mascots in the same area," he said.

As for the hullabaloo surrounding the slang connotations related to the word, Jordan said people ought not to be so sensitive.

"I can see people's concern with it, but I don't think it's valid," he said. "You can find anything offensive anymore."

While student input was taken into consideration and appreciated, Toomer-Cook said it was always the board's intent to make the final decision. National media outlets highlighted the decision Thursday, and the district received many calls and emails.

"That's their responsibility to look at all of the input and make a decision," Toomer-Cook said. "(Media reports are) making it sound like it was already Cougars and we ripped it away from them."

Corner Canyon High is slated to open in fall 2013 and will have a capacity of 1,800 students.

E-mail: mfarmer@desnews.com

Twitter: mollyfarmer

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