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FARMINGTON — Parents in Farmington are petitioning to change the name of a new high school mascot out of concern that when their children cheer from the sidelines it will sound like they're shouting about male anatomy.
After Farmington High School's choice of mascot, the Phoenix, was named Nov. 1, Kyle Fraughton, a parent of future Farmington students, joined his neighbors to practice cheering for the new team.
The result, they say, raised eyebrows.
The group tried cheering for "Phoenixes," but the plural form didn't sound right, Fraughton said. A quick online search revealed an alternative pluralization is "Phoenices," and they tried the cheer again.
"We were horrified to hear that the phonetics of the word Phoenices are far too close to the word penises. I don't mean to be crass, but don’t want there to be confusion around the point I am trying to make," Fraughton wrote on his Change.org petition.
The mascot — a mythical firebird said to be indestructible as it regenerates itself by rising from the ashes — was popularly chosen by students from the neighboring Davis and Viewmont high schools, as well as by junior high students who will eventually attend the school, according to a Davis School District release.
Fraughton believes the awkward sounding name was a simple oversight that can be quickly and easily remedied by the time Farmington High School opens its doors in fall 2018.
The concerned resident reached out to representatives from the Davis School District and the high school's administrators, but after lengthy talks, he said his concerns were dismissed.
"I kind of left with an impression like I have to show these guys there is support for changing the mascot for this reason, otherwise this is just going to stay the same," Fraughton said.
So Fraughton launched his petition, and in three days secured more than 2,600 signatures and 300 comments.
In the petition, Fraughton says that while some say the school will refer to the mascot in the singular form of Phoenix, he says it's "grammatically incorrect" and will result in a "never-ending barrage" of vulgar insults from rival fans. "I’m confident that the district does not want to bear the responsibility of our children being bullied as a result of our school mascot," he wrote.
Chris Williams, spokesman for Davis School District, said that with the exception of Fraughton's petition, reaction to the mascot has been overwhelmingly positive. He maintains that the plural of Phoenix is simply Phoenix.
He pointed out that there is no way to know whether any of the signers of Fraughton's petition are even residents of Davis County.
Upon learning about the campaign against the Phoenix, other parents have reached out to the district, Williams said, to voice their support for what the indomitable bird stands for. And Principal Richard Swanson, who will lead the school when it opens next year, has reported that the mascot represents what he hopes to instill in students there, according to Williams.
"He wants to build a school with a cohesive student body, and he thinks the Phoenix is the mascot that will help him accomplish that," Williams said.
In response to Fraughton's concerns, Williams said the school district tracked down five other high schools that have the Phoenix as their mascot. All five reported using Phoenix as the plural form, Williams said, and none of them have had any comments with it being used inappropriately.
Williams also notes that students at the future school were allowed to choose their own mascot in order to foster camaraderie. The Phoenix was the clear winner, he said, followed by "farmers" and "eagles."
Swapping the mascot to something else would require a vote by the school board, and so far, Williams said he is unaware of any intent to consider a change.
Fraughton, a father of elementary school-age students, lives within the boundaries of the new high school. The family loves the Farmington area, he said, and intends to stay in the area well into his childrens' high school years. And during that time, he wants them to have a home team they can be proud of.
"Farmington is like the greatest place to live in the history of the world. I love Farmington, I'm not going anywhere," Fraughton said. "Farmington's got a lot of pride, it hasn't been a big spot on the map but Station Park started to put us there and more and more people are flocking to Farmington right now. This school could be another big draw."
Fraughton emphasizes he isn't looking to embarrass the school district and has no ill feelings about the mascot choice. He also isn't proposing an alternative mascot, he said he just wants something new to be carefully chosen to represent the school.
"I would like to proudly wear my sweatshirt of the high school that has the name of the mascot on it and not feel any embarrassment," Fraughton said.