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'Warrior' logo removed from Scappoose Middle's highway sign

Superintendent: Effort to improve appearance of 'shoddy' sign

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: MARK MILLER - A sign along Highway 30 outside Scappoose Middle School previously displayed the school's logo, a stylized 'Warrior' in profile. The icon was taken off the sign during summer maintenance work and is unlikely to be replaced, according to the schools superintendent.Amid uncertainty at the state level as to whether districts like the Scappoose School District will be able to keep their Native logos and mascots, the stylized cartoon logo of the Scappoose Middle School Warriors has been removed from the school’s sign along Highway 30.

Stephen Jupe, the district’s superintendent, confirmed the logo was removed, with no immediate plans to restore it, during summer maintenance work at the school. However, he cautioned against reading too much into the move.

“There’s nothing really significant about that,” he said, adding, “The sign is not necessarily an indication of where we want to go at all, because it has to be a combination of legislation and community wishes.”

The executive and legislative branches of the state government have sent conflicting messages over the use of Native imagery in schools.

Last year, then-Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a law that would allow school districts to retain Native logos and mascots if their local tribes consented. However, the law required such agreements to be approved by the Oregon State Board of Education, which decided unanimously this year to reaffirm its earlier decision that Native mascots are unacceptable in public schools and must be removed by July 2017.

Jupe has been a vocal advocate for allowing Native mascots to remain at schools. Both the middle and high schools in the Scappoose School District have Native-themed mascots — the Warriors and the Indians, respectively — and are likely to be affected if the State Board of Education’s mandate stands.

Notably, the policy adopted by the board in 2012 would allow the use of “Warriors” as a name if it is not accompanied by Native imagery.

On Tuesday, Aug. 18, while discussing the removal of the logo, Jupe referred to the State Board of Education as “a renegade group ... holding the process up, against the clear vote of the Legislature.”

He said he plans to appeal to state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, for clarification on the legal situation.

“Either there is a mechanism for us to try to continue with ‘Indians,’ or there isn’t,” Jupe said.

In the meantime, Jupe suggested, the logo is likely to stay off the sign at Scappoose Middle.

The logo, which depicts a cartoon Native “Warrior” in profile, was removed in an effort to improve the plywood sign’s appearance, according to Jupe.

“Local people haven’t even noticed how shoddy it looked, until I pointed out that it was, you know, shoddy,” he said. “And those local people ... that I’ve talked to haven’t even noticed that the logo’s gone.”

He added, “At the moment, it just needed cleaning up. It was shoddy. ... There was no way to make it look good.”

Asked whether Scappoose Middle will stop using the logo altogether, Jupe responded, “I don’t think so.”

The “Warrior” is still displayed on a letterboard sign on the side of the school facing Maple Street. The logo is also prominent on a gymnasium wall inside the school, and Jupe said he doesn’t know of plans to remove it there.

Even still, the school district has been scaling back its usage of its cartoon logos, including at Scappoose High School, Jupe indicated.

“For some time now, we’ve been careful,” Jupe said. “We’ve been careful with Indian heads.”

He explained, “If you buy several thousand dollars’ worth of uniforms, you’re careful of what your symbols are.”

Asked whether that means not using cartoon depictions of Native characters, Jupe said, “Oh, definitely no cartoons. That’s not acceptable.”

Jupe has previously indicated that if the school district were to reach an agreement with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde to continue using its mascot names, it would still likely have to retire its facial logos.

Painting and other maintenance work have been ongoing at district facilities during the summer break — especially at the middle school, Jupe said. Scappoose Middle is the district’s oldest building, dating back to the 1920s, according to Jupe.

An old wooden sign with the “Indian” logo remains standing at the corner of the Scappoose High campus, visible from Highway 30.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: MARK MILLER - A letterboard sign on a less prominent facade of Scappoose Middle School, facing Maple Street near where it intersects Highway 30, still features the 'Warrior' logo, along with the motto 'Warrior Pride.'