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Nevis School is considering a return to its original mascot, the Tiger Muskie. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Nevis School considers a Tiger Muskie mascot

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The mighty muskie has re-surfaced in Nevis, creating a wave of dialogue.

Monday night, the Nevis School Board gave initial approval to change the school's mascot from the Tiger, as it has been for the last 73 years (with the exception of a two-year Pirate stint), to the Tiger Muskie, the original school mascot.

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Now the public will be invited to weigh in, with opinions invited at the Monday, Oct. 22 board meeting, when a second reading of the revision, and possible vote on the matter, will take place.

Discussion surfaced last spring, with students and staff asked to sign a petition in support.

"Many people in our community and school have been in support of changing our school mascot/nickname from Tigers back to our original Tiger Muskies," activities director Bryan Wormley wrote in a memo to the board.

A big part of this push is because Nevis itself is home to the world's largest Tiger Muskie and the community's Muskie Days celebration, he explains.

"In returning to our original Tiger Muskie mascot, we would be returning our school and community to their roots, and bringing the school and community together in support of the Muskies," he said.

Wormley pointed out the adoption of the name would be unique in the state and nation. Twenty schools use the Tiger nickname in Minnesota. Nevis would be the sole school in the nation with the Tiger Muskie name.

The move is earning support, with 54 percent of students in grades 6-12 giving it a thumb's up and 22 staff members in favor in an informal poll. The student council approved the move, as did coaches, Wormley said.

And the suggestion drew "overwhelming cheers of support" at this summer's 100-year school celebration.

"It's an identity unique to the community," Wormley told the board. Belle Taine was once known for the lunkers lurking beneath its surface.

But school secretary Lynne Gustafson noted the change would require major modifications.

Tiger heads can be found in numerous locations, she said, including directional signs, the floor in the gym, on mats, the website and in the fitness center. A new insignia would be needed on class rings and on graduation announcements.

And she indicated a "fish" holds unseemly qualities. "We have a regal, proud mascot now," Gustafson said. "A fish is not."

"This may be a move to bring the community and school together," board chair Ed Becker said, but questioned, if approved, this should be done mid-year.

"It would energize the school," Wormley said. His fellow athletic directors advocate giving people the opportunity to make the change, he said.

The name change, Marv Vredenburg recalled, originated from the neighbor's moniker - the Akeley Anglers. Their credo was "we catch muskies for supper."

Sherm Anderson pointed out the costs cited are mostly attrition items, many of them cyclical, such as uniforms, and need to be replaced.

Changes, the board agreed, could be made over time.

The school song is adaptable to the change. There was no discussion on modifying the school colors of green and gold.

The motion to approve the first reading to change the name met approval from all board members except Jeannette Dudley, who urged the board to "concentrate on the bond issue," which will be before voters on the November ballot.

Information is expected to be included in sports programs and other school communication.

"I would love to see 'Home of the Muskies' on the water tower," Wormley said of school's and area's identity.

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