From Yellow Jackets to Tigers? Centralia Middle School students pitch change of mascot, school colors 


Centralia Middle School’s yellow jacket mascot could be getting replaced soon. 

Members of the school’s leadership class pitched their mascot and school colors replacement proposal to the Centralia City Council during a meeting on Tuesday June 11. They followed that up by presenting to the Centralia School Board on Wednesday.

Four eighth grade students — Sydney Styger, Maddie Ahern, Corbyn Ross and Sawyer Sexsmith — presented the possibility to the city council.

They were joined by their physical education teacher, Ana Summers, and Centralia Middle School Principal Lara Gregorich-Bennett.

Ross shared with the council some of the reasoning behind wanting to change the mascot and colors, which are currently blue and yellow. 

“One of the reasons that we would like to change our colors and mascot for the middle school is for our Centralia Youth Sports, because they are the orange and black, and tigers,” Ross said. 

He added Centralia Middle School is one of only two schools within the Centralia School District (CSD) that doesn’t have the tiger as its mascot. 

Should the colors and mascot be changed to match, Sawyer stated it would encourage more parents and graduates to buy branded gear, as the colors would be correct no matter which youth sporting event they were attending. 

“Here’s a quote from my mother, ‘My kid was a tiger for six years, then a yellow jacket for two years, then a tiger again the last four years. I’m not going to buy the gear for two years when they go back to being orange and black and tigers,’” Sawyer said. 

Centralia Middle School and Centralia High School students would also have matching school colors attending each other’s sporting events. 

Maddie told the council it is also the right time to change the mascot and colors. 

“If we don’t start now, when will we? Thankfully, we as a community passed our levy earlier this year,” Maddie said. “Therefore, this would be a great time to start this transition. With the money granted, we could do things like get new signs, new athletic gear and redo certain parts of our school building.” 

Sydney added with the nearby Fort Borst Park Historic Blockhouse getting repairs and some fields at Borst Park having artificial turf installed this summer, sponsorship opportunities could also be created by changing the mascot and colors. 

“We can ask sponsors like TransAlta to tie in the middle school and unify CSD,” Sydney said. 

According to Corbyn, a local jersey design company and a painting company have also volunteered their time and labor to help remodel the school, and he proposed also getting the community involved to help paint the school and make new signs. 

Along with talking to their fellow students and parents, the four middle schoolers also held a survey to gather public input on the possibility of a mascot and colors change. 

They received 600 responses. An overwhelming 84.5% of those who took the survey supported changing the colors from blue and yellow to black and orange. 

As for the mascot itself, only 15.3% of those who took the survey wanted the mascot to remain the yellow jacket, while 18.3% wanted it to be changed to the bengals and 66.3% wanted the mascot to be the tigers. 

Possible logos were also shown for survey takers to choose from. A front-facing tiger head narrowly beat a side-view oriented tiger head, 43.2% to 41%. The remaining 15.8% wanted to keep the yellow jacket logo. 

Summers broke down how much changing the mascot and colors would actually cost, and expected the new football helmets, uniforms and pads to cost the most at an estimated $15,000. 

Given that some of the old jerseys were already in dire need of replacement, money for that was already in the school’s budget. 

Jerseys and equipment replacement for the eight other sports students participate in at Centralia Middle School is estimated to cost around $37,000. 

Without volunteer help, painting the school itself will cost an estimated $30,000. The gymnasium will need new paint as well, but would most likely have to wait as the floor would need to be sanded and refinished as well. 

“We would have to outsource for things like the gym and the weight room … so that’s going to be a little different, hence the gym renovation is to be decided,” Summers said to the council. 

Given these costs, the students proposed slowly changing the colors and uniforms over a few years, along with getting community volunteers involved.

“If this goes through, we don’t at all want to forget who we were as the yellow jackets, so we plan on creating a decorative hallway to commemorate the past of being yellow jackets,” Corbyn added. 

The students added the other two schools in the CSD that don’t have tiger logos or colors are also considering mascot and color changes. 

As for the council’s thoughts on the student’s presentation, they supported their efforts to change the mascot. 

“I spent 17 years teaching at Centralia Middle School, and now those T-shirts will have to go,” Councilor Mark Westley said jokingly. “But no, I think this is great, and as you pointed out very eloquently, rebranding anything comes at a very heavy price and very heavy lift.”