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Mecklenburg County schools make gains, earn across-the-board state accreditation

Trustee alleges high school disparities

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Opinion

Summer musings

SoVaNow.com / July 17, 2019
Let’s make this snappy:

» In what will come as a surprise to no one, my idea for a new high school mascot is going nowhere. Some time ago, I suggested a two-pronged approach: first, blend the school colors of Bluestone and Park View, and second, pick a nickname based on the new color scheme. My thought was to opt for green and gold, a la The College of William & Mary, and borrow their Tribe nickname. Because Mecklenburg will become all one tribe with the advent of a consolidated school, right? Plus there’s actual history of Native tribes in Mecklenburg County that you can place with the name. Alternately, you could take Bluestone’s blue and Park View’s green and come up the scheme that roughly matches the Seattle Seahawks’. Hawks — we have plenty of those! Seahawks doesn’t quite cut it, but can I hear a second for Riverhawks?

Alas, no one cares what I think except for me. Bummer. Instead, there are three choices for a school mascot presently on the table, after a dud vote on the matter by the School Board Monday night. (Trustees made their selection on a 3-2 ballot, with two absences and two abstentions, which doesn’t meet the requirements for a valid vote.) The options under consideration are Phoenix, Mavericks and Mudcats. Three trustees voted for Phoenix based on popular sentiment in a recent poll, with Mavericks taking second place and Mudcats coming in third. I’d reverse that order name-by-name. Phoenix? Really? Why don’t we just rename the school Hogwarts? Mudcats is little humble for my tastes, but I like the idea of going with a mascot name that sounds indigenous to the county. How about Bluecats, in honor of Buggs Island Lake’s world-record fish?

One thing is virtually assured: No matter what the eventual choice is, lots of people will hate it, and probably everyone will make fun of it. When the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers first introduced their mascot, Gritty, everyone staggered around as if they had just overdosed on nightmare fuel. (A reasonable reaction.) Of course, Gritty turned out to be the greatest mascot in the history of sports, a worthy heir to the throne occupied by the Philly Phanatic, who now has emeritus behind his name. Gritty is more than a mascot, he’s a meme factory, and Mecklenburg can only aspire to succeed as wildly as the City of Brotherly Love. So how about a little love for a mascot that practically cries out, “This is Mecklenburg County?” Phoenix? A great place to visit (not), but I wouldn’t want to live there.

***

Speaking of high heat, the weather forecast is predicting this week will remain a scorcher. That’s in keeping with the history of the Virginia Lake Festival, which has enjoyed something of a run of luck with milder weather in recent years. Don’t let the hot weather scare you off, though; the opportunities for keeping cool are everywhere with Lakefest, as long as folks exercise a modicum of judgment.

Drink plenty of fluids, duck into the air-conditioned stores on Virginia Avenue, go play a round of Water Wars, and head on over to Occoneechee State Park for a cool-down at the splash park, which opened only last year. (Dress appropriately, of course.) The heat notwithstanding, Lakefest is a highlight of the summer. As is the case with everything in the summertime, a little common sense goes a long way in helping to tame the elements. Virginia’s lakeside town awaits your presence — don’t miss the fun.

***

I’ve been laying off national politics in recent months, because 2020 is going to be hellish experience and I have no particular desire to “go there” until necessary. But recent events do cry out for a response. A short list: A purported billionaire financier was arrested this week on charges of child sex abuse; in the past month the President of the United States was credibly accused of rape; migrant children continue to caged at the border; and now Donald Trump has been condemned by the U.S. House of Representatives for broadcasting racist Tweets about four Congresswomen of color, telling them to “go back” to their own country (which happens to be the U.S.) in a display of ugliness and hate that anyone should be able to recognize for what it is.

There’s a lot that you can say about Trump’s tweets — none of it good — but everyone should recognize that his latest blow-up isn’t a one-off, or an aberration, or another Trumpian dumpster fire accomplished without purpose. This is a deliberate strategy to demonize the four representatives — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — in a bid to drive up the vote of Trump’s base, foreshadowing what's in store for next year's presidential campaign. To be clear, I think this is a stupid strategy, as evidenced by Trump’s similar nasty rhetoric about undocumented immigrants in the leadup to the 2018 mid-term elections. Remember the caravan? As you’ll recall, Republicans pretty much got their heads handed to them in that race, which certainly calls into question the near-term effectiveness of bald-faced racism and xenophobia as a political tactic in a diversifying country. The long-term impact? Woof.

At any rate, last night the House voted 240-187 to pass a resolution condemning Trump’s remarks about the four Members. Four Republicans located their spines and joined Democrats in the condemnation vote, while all the others, including 5th District Rep. Denver Riggleman, evinced the cowardice and hypocrisy that have become Republican Party bywords. It’s a pathetic sight to see. The Congressional resolution paid tribute to the role that immigrants have played in America’s success, quoting at length a president who observed, “‘We lead the world because, unique among nations, we draw our people — our strength — from every country and every corner of the world, and by doing so we continuously renew and enrich our nation ... thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we’re a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge.’’ That president? Ronald Reagan.

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