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Buford Middle School is getting a new mascot. And the public gets to weigh in.

In addition to a multimillion dollar renovation and a new name, Charlottesville’s Buford Middle School — soon to be Charlottesville Middle School — has announced it is looking for a new school mascot.

Since the mid-1970s, Buford Middle Schoolers have been the Trojans, the warriors of myth and legend who hailed from Troy in what is present-day Turkey. School publicity materials depict a stylized version of a Trojan soldier in black and white wearing a plumed Corinthian helmet and a cape.

Administrators, however, say that the “very masculine” and “Greco-Roman” mascot is not universally loved. (Though a history teacher might point out that Trojans, depending on the century, would have bristled at the idea of being called Greek or Roman.)

“We had people reach out over the years saying, ‘This is a good opportunity to foster a new school community … something a little more inclusive,’” Beth Cheuck, a Charlottesville City Schools spokeswoman, told The Daily Progress.

The decision to revamp the mascot was made easier by the prior decision to revamp the entire school’s campus and name.

Or, as Cheuck put it: “New school, new mascot.”

In June, the Charlottesville School Board unanimously voted to rename the school to Charlottesville Middle School.

Named after Florence De Launey Buford, the first principal of Summit Elementary School who campaigned to improve education for the city’s mentally disabled population, the change was made to coincide with the reinvention of the school itself and the school division’s decision to move away from naming schools after people. The new name will take effect in the fall of 2025.

Along with a new name and mascot, the middle school is getting a facelift with an expansion project promising improvements to natural light, accessibility, ventilation and security.

The modernization efforts will demolish the school’s existing gymnasium as well as a small classroom structure called Building D. New structures will rise that will include both natural light and operable windows to take advantage of fresh air when weather permits.

After a competitive bidding process, Harrisonburg-based Nielsen Builders Inc. was tapped in March of last year as the general contractor for the $84.3 million construction project, a $91.8 million effort including design and other costs.

The school division is hoping the community will weigh in on the school’s new mascot. After receiving more than 1,000 responses from a survey done in the fall, the school has released another survey allowing parents, teachers and Charlottesville locals the chance to share their thoughts on four potential mascots: Black Knights, another type of knight, the Chargers or the Monarchs.

Some may recognize the Black Knight mascot from Charlottesville High School. Several of those surveyed in the fall were in favor of using the same mascot in order to strengthen ties between the two schools and build on the city’s “Black Knight Pride,” according to the prior survey. Others would like to see a slight variation to the knight, such as the “Orange Knight” or “Junior Knight.”

One of the other suggestions, Chargers, is a reference to the traditional name for the horse a knight might ride into battle or on parade. The survey found that respondents liked the “power” and “energy” associated with the name and that it started with the same four letters as Charlottesville.

The remaining candidate, the Monarch, is another play on the medieval theme of knights and chargers. In addition, the monarch butterfly shares the school’s colors of orange and black.

“They liked the way that monarch is a different word for royalty and includes both kings and queens, who might have lived alongside Black Knights,” reads the new survey outlining the four options for mascot. “They liked the power, honor, and leadership that are associated with a monarch.”

The mascot survey closes at the end of the month when a volunteer committee composed of staff and students will then review the responses and recommend next steps to the school board, which has final say on the matter.


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