Vandal2Viking Project: Making history at VMS

Rylee Hill (center), who won the contest to design the new Viking letterhead for Vale Middle School, is congratulated by the authors who spearheaded the drive to change the mascot. (Submitted photo) Rylee Hill (center), who won the contest to design the new Viking letterhead for Vale Middle School, is congratulated by the authors who spearheaded the drive to change the mascot. (Submitted photo)

By Alvaro Diaz, Sara Hines, Casey McGarvey, and Mersadies Villastrigo
For the Enterprise

VALE – Students at Vale Middle School recently made history this spring when the school board allowed them to become part of the Viking community.

The school mascot was officially changed from the Vandals to the Vikings on March 9.

The project began in Angela Lattin’s reading classes as a practice performance task for the state assessments. Students agreed that the Vandal mascot was outdated and needed a change.

The mascots date back 30 years to when every Vale school was in a separate school district. Today, the local schools are all part of the Vale School District, and the students felt having one mascot makes sense.

“I feel like changing our name to the Vikings helped us feel more together with the rest of the school. I liked the project,” said eighth-grader Maycee DeLong.

Using an essay format arguing pros and cons, the students appealed to the Vale School Board to make the change.

Prior to writing, the students researched old yearbooks housed in the middle school library. The students discovered the school originally was home to the Wildcats. The colors were blue and gold.

According to the yearbooks, that changed in 1987 when the school found blue and gold uniforms too costly. Using black and white allowed the middle school to obtain hand-me-down uniforms from the high school.

Last February, the students invited Darlene McConnell, former Vale Middle School athletic director, and Jeff Wagner, former teacher, to speak to the classes about the earlier change. Both agreed the time was right for the middle school to become the Vikings.

The group also interviewed former principal Brent Barton, and surveyed staff members and current and former students about the proposed change. Overall, 91 percent of those surveyed were in favor of the change. Of those who responded, 44 percent were students, and 56 percent were staff members.

Respondents cited community pride as the No. 1 reason for the change. Other benefits included cost saving by sharing Viking uniforms and the overall sense of unity the Viking name brings to the middle school and community.

The student presentation to the school board included copies of the student essays, a student-created video about the project, and survey results.

After discussion, the school board unanimously approved the change.

Since then, the student body held a contest to redesign the letterhead used at the school. Rylee Hill, an eighth-grader, received a gift card and wooden Viking pride block for his winning entry.

Principal Jeri Schaffeld presented the new letterhead at the April school board meeting.

When questioned about the changes, Vale School District Superintendent Scott Linenberger said, “I think it’s terrific.”

He said the students of VMS had made history with this project and would likely remember their efforts forever.

According to Linenberger, the board liked the student presentation and agreed it was time to make the change. Students at Vale Middle School are excited to be part of the Viking legacy.

The authors wrote this article this spring, as students at Vale Middle School.