SALEM TOWNSHIP — Strong Elementary School students plan to choose a new mascot and will invite the community to participate in the process, Principal Brenda Dwiggins told SAD 58 directors Thursday night.

The Strong Indians will become either the Lumberjacks, Timberwolves, Mustangs or Generals because a new state law prohibits public schools, colleges and universities from using Native American symbols as mascots.

Gov. Janet Mills signed the measure in May and it took effect 90 days later.

Dwiggins said half the students were unaware they were the Strong Indians.

She said she and her leadership team made sure all related memorabilia would be given to the local historical society.

Strong board member Serena Howard confirmed that team uniforms did not have a logo or related reference to the Indian mascot.

She said she asked community members what they think of the change and has had positive responses.

“The town feels pretty receptive to the idea,” Howard said.

Dwiggins said students were very enthusiastic about selecting their new mascot and offered a long list of suggestions, settling on four finalists.

Students want to involve the community in the decision-making process, so Dwiggins said she will ask selectmen to help her plan the best way to bring a vote to townspeople.

In another matter, Strong Elementary School recently was awarded a stipend and professional support through the Bright Futures  program, which helps children and their families explore opportunities for higher education. The program is a component of the Alfond Scholarship Foundation and the Finance Authority of Maine.

Also Thursday, the board presented Phillips Elementary School prekindergarten teacher Jillian Withee with the Employee of the Month award.

Directors also acknowledged Sonja Walker’s retirement as food service director and approved Nancy Guay as a full-time social worker in the special education department.

Special Education Department Director Laureen Olsen said they received a $1,000 grant from the Sugarloaf Charitable Trust, thanks to the efforts of educational technician Heather Presby Powell. The money will pay for students’ programs at Sugarloaf’s Anti-Gravity Center. Those students also will participate in the annual Special Olympics competitions at Sugarloaf.

The board approved Olsen’s recommendation to hire Linda Kemp Ellicott, a retired special education teacher for the district, as an educational technician at Strong Elementary School.


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