Athol High School unveils “Bears” as new mascot

  • A design of the new Bears logo at Athol High School in white and red. Contributed image

  • A design of the new Bears logo at Athol High School in red and black. Contributed image

  • A design of the new Bears logo at Athol High School in black and red. Contributed image

Staff Writer
Published: 3/18/2021 6:43:09 PM
Modified: 3/18/2021 7:04:37 PM

Athol High School officially has a new mascot.

The previous Red Raiders will now be known as the Bears, with the Athol-Royalston Regional School District School Committee approving the new mascot on Wednesday.

“It’s a relief that the process is over,” Athol Athletic Director Dan Bevis said. “Now we can move forward and begin the next process of rebranding.”

Athol is now working to order uniforms with the new logo, getting the online store open with products featuring the new logo and mascot, and replace some of the things within the school building that have the old mascot on it.

“It’s been a huge undertaking,” Bevis said. “Thankfully we had a great committee working on it, with (Athol High School Principal) Dave King being a great facilitator.”

The process of choosing a new name began in November after the School Committee decided to retire the Red Raider mascot, with community members calling it “disrespectful,” “embarrassing” and “racially insensitive” at the meeting.

A committee then formed and narrowed down a list of mascots that were deemed to be acceptable, compiling a list of 10 that were sent out to the public. From there, the committee of staff and alumni put together two names, and the student committee chose one name to create a final three for the School Committee to vote on.

The final three choices were Bears, Ravens and Knights, with Bears ultimately having the majority of votes.

“It’s obviously a mixed reaction within the town,” Bevis said. “You have some people who didn’t want the change and others who have been wanting it to be changed. When the decision was made in November, we did some educational stuff within our school as to what the mascot was and why we’re doing what we’re doing. We made it a school-wide thing.”

The Athol-Royalston Regional School District worked with Shutesbury-based HEARD Strategy & Storytelling to design the new logo.

“We felt it was important to take the financial burden out of the re-branding process,” HEARD Strategy & Storytelling CEO Jake Messier said in a press release. “Once a school district decided to make that brave decision, we stepped in and guided them through the process. The Athol mascot subcommittees (that) worked on this project were thorough, thoughtful and focused, which made this a fruitful collaboration.”

HEARD Strategy & Storytelling did not have a say in the new mascot.

“They’ve taken the PR stuff from us,” Bevis said. “They didn’t have a say in the matter, but guided us and created some imagery. Once we narrowed it down to the three finalists, they provided us with images. They helped us along the way but they had no stake in the matter and didn’t vote on anything.”


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