Student committee set to decide mascot, colors for new Sioux Falls schools

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Sioux Falls, S.D. - The new Thomas Jefferson high school and Ben Reifel middle school in Sioux Falls could soon have a new mascot and colors.

“Not only will there be a lasting impact of their decision, but I think it will be pretty fun to 30 years from now say, I helped name that mascot, Sioux Falls Superintendent Dr. Brian Maher said.

That’s thanks to a student committee led by high school students from all of Sioux Fall's schools.

“So we got to thinking, how should we best do that and our thought was lets have the students do that,” Maher said.

Schools don't have to approve their chosen mascot with the South Dakota High School Activities Association, but they said they would step in if they found any selection to be undesirable.

“I’ll say that I don’t believe any school in our state would ever do this, but I would imagine if someone had selected an incredibly offensive mascot name, that’s something that we would probably step in and try to remedy with them,” South Dakota High School Association Executive director Dr. Dan Swartos said.

In the midst of a decision for these two new schools comes the possibility of redrawing school boundary lines to include them.

“I can’t have 1,000 students in this building and 200 students in this building and say that I’m equitably handling the resources that we are in charge of,” Maher said.

Maher said redistricting is always tough to deal with because it opens the possibility of students having to leave their current school to attend the new one.

But, the new schools are being built to ease overcrowding. Decisions about which students will go to what schools is still a little way down the road.

Maher said decisions about school mascots and colors will come soon, though he's staying mum on what they could be.

“I can tell you this,” Maher said. “So here is one of the things we've talked to them about. You know we have Washington Warriors. We have Lincoln Patriots. We have Roosevelt Rough Riders. So it’s not going to be the warriors, the patriots, or the rough riders.”

Mascots and colors from schools near Sioux Falls are also being considered so that the new Sioux Falls schools won't end up copying them.

“So we've given them a lot of information, yet there is still this whole wide arena I think when it comes to mascots and I think they will be quite creative,” Maher said.

Both schools are expected to open in the fall of 2021.

Maher said they want to have their redistricting done one year prior to that opening, but students won’t be impacted until 2021.