Manhattan High School

Manhattan High School's west campus

Nearly two years after the Manhattan-Ogden school board approved a wolf as a secondary mascot at Manhattan High School, the school does not have any concrete plans to dress a student in a costume.

“We don’t have anybody identified to dress up in a wolf costume right now,” principal Michael Dorst said in August. He said he needed to meet with student leadership to discuss the matter.

After the school board meeting Wednesday, Dorst said progress on the issue has been slow because he has been pressed for time.

“The only way I could explain why nothing has been done is because I’m at capacity for my time, and I haven’t been able to reach the three leadership teams and pull them together,” Dorst said. “I would just ask for your patience, because this has been since November of 2017, and I’m still in my second month. I’m just asking for patience.”

Dorst said he’d spoken with student council representatives, and he’s hoping to get leaders from the school’s spirit club and cheerleading team in the same room to talk about the secondary mascot.

“I’d be talking with them about what was charged to the student body back in 2017,” Dorst said. “Do the students at Manhattan High School desire to have a rally image and have that (Kansas State High School Activities Association)-approved rally image on the sideline during athletic events?”

When asked if that meant he was restarting the process, Dorst declined to answer, saying only that he was not the principal two years ago.

Since he has become principal, Dorst said, “I’ve met with people, I just haven’t met with all of them together. I just want to make sure that if I ask the question, when I ask the question, it’s done correctly and it’s done right.”

Dorst said no students or parents have asked him about the secondary mascot issue while he’s been principal.

In December 2017, the school board voted 4-3 to accept the high school student council’s recommendation that the school adopt the wolf as a secondary mascot. That vote came after the school board decided to keep the Indian as the school’s official mascot while charging a committee with a variety of tasks, including exploring options for a secondary mascot.

Four school board members who voted on December 2017 are still on the board. Curt Herrman and Darrell Edie voted against the wolf. Dave Colburn and Leah Fliter voted for it.

During the fall 2017 semester, the school’s student council held a student body vote on three options related to the secondary mascot: wolf, bison and no mascot. While the “no mascot” option garnered a 37% plurality, the student council opted to recommend the wolf anyway, which outpolled the bison, as a 63% majority of students voted in favor of a mascot.

Last year, former principal Greg Hoyt said he was hopeful the school would have a physical mascot in place sometime that school year, but there were two issues delaying that move. Woodrow Wilson Elementary also has a wolf mascot, and it had recently purchased a costume, so the high school wanted to explore finding a wolf costume that wouldn’t be too similar, Hoyt said.

The other issue was balancing the secondary wolf mascot with the Indian name and imagery that the school was still keeping.