Shakespeare asked “What’s in a name?” The answer is — plenty, at least when it comes to schools and mascots. After an hour-long debate Monday night, the Vinton-Shellsburg School Board voted to put it all to a series of votes. Superintendent Randy Braden says the kids will determine the new high school’s colors and mascot, while the adults will decide about naming several school buildings, and the school district itself may be renamed too.
The boy’s teams are called the Vikings and Braden polled the female athletes in the high school about remaining Vikettes. Braden says “Thirty-five percent want to keep it. Thirty-five percent want to change it and about 30-percent don’t care.” Twenty-two Iowa schools have different names for their boys and girls athletic teams. Vinton-Shellsburg has called the girls’ team the Vikettes for 35 years.
Charitey Rowden, a basketball player, is among those who want to keep the Vikettes name. Rowden says “Vikettes has always been kind of a, I don’t know, symbolizes the girls. It’s kind of special to us.” But another basketball player, Jenna Westcott, is in the opposing camp. Westcott says “We’d like to have the same name as the guys.” The superintendent contends the term “Vikettes” suggests the girls teams are inferior, and he points to a reference book for proof. Braden says adding “ette” at the end of the name means “lesser value” or “minimizing.”
Braden says the school board will determine what to name the 14-million dollar high school that’s under construction, as well as the names of other existing school buildings. He says if the school district will be renamed too, it will go to a vote of the people. Vinton-Shellsburg also includes students from several surrounding communities, including Garrison and Mount Auburn.
A southwest Iowa school district calls its boys teams “Vikings” but has another name for its girls teams. In Stanton, the boys are the “Vikings” and the girls are known as the “Viqueens.”