On December 7, four months after informing the community that he would be eliminating the Red Raider nickname Melrose Principal Jason Merrill was called before the school committee to present his Nickname/Mascot Project. Only the school committee has the authority to decide if there should be a change and what that change will be.
Using a PowerPoint presentation, Principal Merrill and his steering committee detailed their ongoing efforts to identify a new nickname and their plan to introduce a mascot to Melrose High School by way of a community survey.
In mid-October, prior to the School Committee voting on whether a name change was warranted - and assuming the elimination of the Red Raider was a foregone conclusion - the steering committee created and distributed a Nickname/Mascot survey. The survey's intent was specifically to gather as many NEW nicknames and mascot ideas from the community as possible based on their criteria that the new mascot will:
have a connection to Melrose, the community and its history;
instill pride in the student body;
work equally well for all school co-curricular activities;
represent positive qualities, ideals, or associations; and
be one that people can feel good about.
The steering committee provided the following survey results:
Since then, the Transparency Initiative has received the survey's raw data.
Given the data, the steering committee's contention that 95% of respondents provided new ideas/were open to change is an entirely misleading statement.
In the student/staff survey there were over 600 responses. Many of those responses are questionable as to the legitimate nature of the submission. Approximately,
• 132 of the submissions were either humorous or facetious in nature, including:
- The Anonamoose - Moose
- The Benedictory Blobfish - Blobfish Mascot
- The Candy Canes - Candy Cane Mascot
- The Cowy - Cow Mascot
- The E's - Letter E Mascot
- The Marshmallows/The Exploding Marshmallows – Mascot Marshmallow
- The Monkeys – Mascot Monkey
- The Melrose Rodents – Mascot A big rat
- The Mr. Melrose's – Corn Mascot
- The Munchkins - Donut Hole Mascot
- The Eds - Ed Sheerhan Mascot
- The Mr. Merrills – Mascot Mr. Merrill dressed as corn
- The Red Teddy Bears - Red Teddy Bear Mascot
- The Red Imposters - Sussy Baker Mascot
- The Uni – Mascot Unicorn
• 46 were unsolicited write-ins for Red Raider or Raider (with and without a mascot)
• 47 were non-responses or responses that used proper name of students.
• 100 did not meet the steering committee’s nickname/mascot criteria.
The community survey introduced even fewer new ideas. Of the 1,000 submissions, approximately:
• 560 were unsolicited write-ins for Red Raider(s)
• 92 were unsolicited write-ins for Raiders
• 77 were either humorous or facetious in nature
• 5 were non-responsive or responded with Red, Reds, or Melrose
• 80 did not meet the steering committee's nickname/mascot criteria
The steering committee dismissed the overwhelming support of the Red Raider/Raider nickname stating Melrose residents "were able to share the same idea multiple times."
During the steering committee's presentation, Principal Merrill clarified that the survey "isn't saying that 95% of the student body and staff want a change, I'll be very clear, it's certainly not what it means." Of the responses given, "95% of those that were new ideas, which was great to see a lot of different ideas and feedback."
The Transparency Initiative calls on the steering committee to update its survey results to only include legitimate submissions.