Dera Sipe addresses the board of trustees on Tuesday night about school names and mascots. (Photo by The Fort Mill Sun)

The Fort Mill School district approved the names and mascots for three new schools on Tuesday night, but not before objections from three local parents about the choices for the new elementary school on Masons Bend Drive.

One of the parents, Dera Sipe, sparked a discussion among trustees by saying the Kings Town Elementary School was a bad name for many reasons, saying the “Knights” mascot was not inclusive of both genders.

“Knights are male. Everybody knows that,” Sipe said after trustees heard her concerns but unanimously approved Knights as the mascot.

“I think that’s a little bit problematic that Fort Mill is not willing to acknowledge that need for (progressive) change,” Sipe said. “You want a mascot like the Riverview Rockets. Everyone can identify with that. It’s kind of cute.”

But the board took the advice of the school administration, who had chosen the final names from a list of three suggestions compiled by a special naming committee. That committee was comprised of students, parents, community members and staff.

Besides Kings Town Knights, trustees approved two other names: River Trail Elementary School Otters will be the district’s 11th elementary school, located on Fort Mill Parkway, and Forest Creek Middle School Coyotes will be the district’s 6th middle school, located on Whites Road.

In a press release, Chief Communications Officer Joe Burke said Kings Town Elementary has historical ties to King Hagler, the Catawba Chieftain that once lived in the Fort Mill area in the 1700s.

He said River Trail Elementary is located south of the Catawba Ridge High School site on the Fort Mill Southern Bypass. The name and mascot reference the natural features, multiple trails in the area and the local river otter.

Forest Creek Middle School is located on Whites Road adjacent to the Catawba Ridge High School site. The name and mascot also reference the natural features of the area and the local coyote, Burke said.

Still, the local parents who addressed the board said their children were upset they didn’t have any input to name the school they will attend. They also came to Tuesday’s meeting with four new suggestions, which were not officially considered.

As for the suggestion that Knights is not gender inclusive, trustee Michele Branning said she never considered the sex of the mascot. She said she has previously been a Viking and a Panther.

“I’ve never looked at my mascot from a gender standpoint,” she said.

Trustees said they hope parents will show the same enthusiasm for the school once it opens, remembering that it’s not the name or mascot of the school but what goes on inside the building that counts.

The Fort Mill Sun has been the only media to cover recent school trustee meetings. Check back here for more free school news. And feel free to email us at [email protected]