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PHOENIX RISING / July 31, 2019

Rising from the ashes of an earlier failed ballot, the Phoenix was approved as the new mascot for Mecklenburg County’s consolidated high and middle school by a 5-1 vote of the Mecklenburg County School Board on Monday night.

Phoenix beat out the other top choices for a new school mascot when the high school/middle school complex opens in August 2022.

In an initial survey of students and members of the public taken in March, younger students generally favored Phoenix for the mascot, while parents expressed a preference for Mudcats and older students lined up behind a third option, Maverick. Three subsequent polls produced mixed results, but a final poll taken in July ended with Phoenix emerging as the clear choice for mascot.

The phoenix is a long-lived mythical bird that periodically obtains new life by rising from the ashes of its predecessor. In historical records, the phoenix has been associated with the sun, and ideas of transformation, strength and renewal. The tears of the phoenix are said to have healing powers.

Board members approved the mascot Monday night with trustee Glenn Edwards casting the lone dissenting vote. While Dora Garner said she would have preferred to have the students choose the mascot, she voted for Phoenix, as did trustees Gavin Honeycutt, Lindell Palmer, Wanda Bailey and chairman Dale Sturdifen.

Absent from the meeting were trustees Brent Richey, Kenny Johnson and Rob Campbell. Richey previously questioned the validity of a poll in which students and members of the public were asked to pick from Maverick, Phoenix or Mudcat among the options.

At the July 15 meeting, the School Board voted 3-2 to adopt Phoenix as the school’s mascot. However, the vote was deemed invalid by the board’s attorney because the choice of mascot did not draw the support of a majority of the nine-member body.

Campbell was not present at either meeting when a vote was taken on the mascot selection.

Superintendent of Schools Paul Nichols said now that trustees have made a decision about the mascot, he will ask the marketing team working with school architects Ballou Justice Upton to design a logo and mascot art. “We will then own the design,” Nichols explained.

Still to be determined are the new school colors. Descriptions of the phoenix throughout time will leave trustees with plenty of options, since the bird’s coloration has been variously described as colorful and vibrant, with peacock-like coloring, red and yellow or with sapphire eyes, yellow-gold scales on the legs and rose-colored talons.

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