Out with the Canfield cardinal, in with the black squirrel?
Hundreds sign petition for mascot change
By Elise Franco
One teacher is ready to usher in a district rebirth for Canfield schools, starting with the beloved mascot.
Stacy Madison, a math teacher at Canfield High School, recently started gathering signatures for a petition to change Canfield school district’s mascot, the cardinal, to a black squirrel.
Madison said when the residents voted down an operating levy in November 2010 and again in May 2011, they were voting against tradition.
“It became apparent that the people of Canfield are calling for change, and change is what they’ve gotten,” he said, referencing cuts in courses, busing and staffing. “It seems to me that it’s the perfect time to change the mascot.”
Madison said the petition isn’t meant to offend and isn’t an attempt at placing blame. He said the black squirrel as the new Canfield mascot would represent the new Canfield schools.
“What would be better than a black squirrel? They’re running rampant around Canfield,” he said. “This movement might be misconstrued as a punishment for voting the levy down. ... But I really think a black squirrel is a better mascot, so how could it be a penalty?”
But Superintendent Dante Zambrini disagreed.
“There are many who fondly remember Canfield schools with the cardinal symbol,” he said. “Some people, who indeed work in the district, thought that possibly it was tongue-in- cheek and weren’t sure if they should take it seriously.”
Madison said he’s gathered more than 400 signatures belonging to students, teachers and staff and Canfield residents and plans to present the petition to the school board before the November election.
He said his hope is that the board will then allow Canfield residents to vote on the change.
“We’re just getting started, and people are very excited about this,” he said. “I’ve already had students come up with new mascot cheers and logos.”
One such idea is Madison’s official change-the-mascot slogan: “Change is hard, but we’re not looney. The black squirrels are in Canfield. The Cardinals are at Mooney” — a reference to Cardinal Mooney High School in the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown.
Zambrini said Madison approached him several weeks ago and explained the petition. He said he relayed the information to the board.
“The board’s position is, we are continuing to work and strive for excellence of the school district,” he said. “Our goal is to focus primarily on the education of the students. I don’t think there is an alert to change the mascot to accomplish that goal.”
Madison said he understands that the board doesn’t support this petition, but he intends to continue to push for the change.
“The only argument anyone gives me to keep the cardinal is because it’s tradition,” he said. “My counter is, voters voted down tradition. It’s time for change.”