Letter to the editor
Submitted by Carole Nelson
The end of this school year has special significance for staff and students at CCHS. As they say goodbye to the grads of 2019, they are also saying goodbye to the Crusader.
As a member of the student body, and specifically the student council, that came up with, and formalized, the Crusader name under the guidance, encouragement, and support of teachers and coaches, the decision to change this long-standing team name hits pretty close to home.
A strong, passionate, and vocal group of alumni rose up in protest of this change, writing letters to the powers–that-be (all but two letters went unacknowledged/answered), submitting letters to the editor, talking to current students, staff, and parents, discussing the issue with members of the public, and sharing thoughts and feelings among the alumni. Attempts were made to be involved in the process, only to be denied (so much for inclusion). The alumni simply wanted a chance to sit down with members of the student body to collaborate on “what it means to be a Crusader”. What an amazing opportunity that could have been! Collaborating and creating the school’s own definition of the name “Crusader” could have done so much more to build school and community spirit, morale, cohesiveness, and pride than the divisive, controversial action of a name/identity change.
And this HAS been a divisive and controversial change. It was made abundantly and disturbingly clear, based on our feedback from current students and parents, that this decision to change the Crusader name was completely unilateral, with little to no input from students. It is on behalf of those kids who didn’t get a say that I submit this letter. To quote one student (who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of repercussions): “I was told that I do not get to voice my opinion about why the name shouldn’t be changed but instead I get to choose what the name would be changed to. I was quite upset considering that nobody got to chime in on the thought of changing our name but instead we were faced with the reality that we didn’t get to voice our opinion that the decision had already been made to change the name……..it was not an option to leave the name as is”. This student goes on to add that some kids thought about speaking up against the change “but before we knew it, it had already been decided”. Further: “Nobody that I’ve talked to found the [Crusader] name offensive – and I’ve talked to a lot of people. The best I’ve heard was ‘I don’t care’ and that’s from people who haven’t won and lost games on the court/field wearing the name across their chests…….this was not the students decision”. It would appear that, under the guise of democracy, inclusiveness, and political correctness, the school has not only sacrificed its tradition and identity but it also stands to alienate the very people it purports to be representing and supporting.
It is disturbing how quickly this move to shift the name came about. To completely change and alter the 45-year-old definition, values, and legacy of the Crusader name, essentially overnight, could be seen as being very one-sided and self-serving. Research has shown that given the various investments involved in creating a new “brand ”, taking your time is recommended so that you can “fully engage the stakeholders, from sponsors, current staff and students, alumni, fans, and the general public to ensure that any decisions are based on what is the right thing to do for the future rather than any change being forever linked to a knee- jerk reaction”. [Research First] Had this process been followed and stakeholders been more involved, the name change may or may not have happened, but at least an informed, comprehensive, thorough, inclusive and complete study would have ensured that the right decision was being made for ALL. Getting your stakeholders to buy-in is the surest way to success.
I’d like to end by quoting a fellow alumnus who still feels the pride, values, and positive effects of being a Crusader: “At the end of the day, the change is being made. We all know deep down that this won’t change what the Crusaders name stood for and meant to us in all of our times representing our teams, the school and the town. It won’t change the fact that being a Crusader made us all better individuals and better team players as adults! I’m going to take that as a win! The name might be gone, but not the spirit. Long live the Crusaders!” Good luck to CCHS moving forward.