A proposal that would change the name and mascot of Bay Springs Middle School is meeting opposition from a group of citizens whose online petition has been signed by more than 1,200 people.
According to the petition on change.org, the Carroll County Board of Education, along with the Villa Rica High School principal Seth Rogers, want to make the changes so they will match Villa Rica Middle School.
While Villa Rica High School’s mascot is the Wildcats and its colors are purple and gold, Bay Springs Middle School is home to the Bobcats, and their colors have been blue and gold since the school opened in January 1998.
Although these proposed changes have not yet been considered by the Carroll County Schools Board of Education, the plan has riled several local citizens, and many are expected to attend the Board’s next meeting on Monday, April 19.
The petition further states:
“Not only will having two Villa Rica Middle Schools be confusing for parents and students, but it will ruin the heritage of Bay Springs Middle School’s 22-year history. The merchandise supporting the school that parents, teachers, and students have purchased throughout the past 22 years will no longer have meaning.
“Copious amounts of money, time, and resources will go towards this unnecessary change for things such as redesigning the school’s website, remodeling the exterior of the school to match the Villa Rica Wildcat alias, and redoing the floors in the gym when that money could be better allocated towards improved teacher pay, interior refurbishing of the school, and more supplies and support for teachers. This petition is a stance against this silly and unnecessary destruction of our community’s history and tradition regarding the Bay Springs Middle School Bobcats.”
The petition concludes by noting that “Our goal was to reach over 500 signatures of people in the local community who stand against this egregious change.”
The current enrollment of Bay Springs Middle School numbers just under 900 students. There are approximately 80 faculty and staff members. The entire Carroll County School System serves approximately 15,000 students who attend 23 elementary, middle, and high schools located in Bowdon, Carrollton, Mount Zion, Roopville, Temple, Villa Rica, and two-thirds of unincorporated Bremen.
According to a statement from the Carroll County Schools released Thursday, over the last few years the Villa Rica School Cluster leaders have been approached about the possibility of considering aligning the Bay Springs Middle School brand, mascot, and colors with Villa Rica High School. Bay Springs Middle School is the only Carroll County middle school that does not have an alignment of its brand colors and mascot with its feeder high school. The board said that changing of the school name is currently not at the forefront of the ongoing discussions.
Kerry Miller is the District 3 representative on the Carroll County School Board.
“I just joined the board in January, but I know we are currently in the exploratory stages of study regarding the possible re-alignment,” he said. “Nothing has been done at this point. I am interested in continuity and moving forward.”
Miller pointed out that he had three kids who attended Bay Springs Middle School and graduated from Villa Rica High School.
The Villa Rica School Cluster has had a series of conversations with community members, as well as with staff and students about this proposed change. Focus groups, staff meetings, student meetings, and surveys are being conducted, as well as one-on-one conversations to gather feedback. On Monday, Rogers and Villa Rica Middle School Principal Mitch Springer met with the 80 members of the Bay Springs Middle teaching faculty and staff.
The statement from the school system noted that conversations are ongoing with stakeholders to consider the pros and cons of the plan.
“The District looks forward to feedback from Cluster Leaders about improving the alignment of Villa Rica schools, creating successful transition experiences for middle school students to high school, and strengthening the connection of the Villa Rica brand between the system’s schools and the community,” the school system said.