Friday, May 06, 2016

EDITORIAL >> A symbol to build on

The Jacksonville-North Pulaski School Board this week chose the Titans as the mascot for all of the new district’s schools.

The new name is as American as the underground Titan missiles that dotted the countryside in silos across north Arkansas. The missiles were under the control of the 308th Strategic Missile Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base for more than 25 years. They were aimed at the Soviet Union during the Cold War and were dismantled in 1987 at the twilight of the Soviet empire.

The Titans symbolize victory in the Cold War, so they are also a good choice for the new district’s athletics program, but some of us thought Jacksonville High School should stay the Red Devils until the new $60 million campus is built downtown at the old middle school site.

That should take three years at least, giving the community plenty of time to find itself a new symbol. But school officials were rushed to choose a mascot because in the complicated plans to separate from the Pulaski County Special School District, the Little Rock-based district was required to paint the JHS campus, including mascot emblems, before the split.

Mascots may seem an afterthought in the new district’s quest to rebuild the community’s education system. The school board is more concerned about creating quality academic programs that can compete with Cabot. That means attracting teachers and students who will raise standards. It can only be done by building modern school buildings and creating a sense of joy and excitement about learning.

The Titans are a good choice to get that process started, but it will be a shame if the Titans football team takes the field wearing Red Devils uniforms because the new district can’t afford new ones. That would give the wrong impression that the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District isn’t financially viable, and that it can’t afford new uniforms for its team.

Let’s not let that happen. Go, Titans!