Camas, WA — Last Friday, I wrote an opinion article called “Respect the History — We’re Called ‘Papermakers’ For a Good Reason,” which addressed issues many in the community have with shortening the Camas High School mascot name from Papermaker to Maker. See the article here: Opinion
I asked for community members to respond and provide feedback, as I wanted to have an open conversation about this topic. The article reached 7,000+ and elicited hundreds of responses. It’s been a good, civil, passionate discussion.
It also brought an official statement from Camas Schools Superintendent, Jeff Snell, and an informative dialogue with Camas High School Athletic Director, Rory Oster.
Here’s Mr. Snell’s response:
You asked for feedback on your recent article, Respect the History. I read your opinion and thought I would offer my perspective. I understand your first and second points and think that probably over time design and language have happened in various forms for various reasons similar to what you’ve articulated. I don’t believe any of that is done with the intention of trying to disrespect our history.
I wanted to comment specifically on your third point, attitude. “There is a concerted movement to erase the history,” is a strong statement. Our school district has never made an effort to erase history. In fact, we try to embrace it. Whether it’s Papermakers or any other part of our proud past we want to honor and celebrate it. Take for example the commons in CHS and all of the versions of Papermakers, or the school bell we placed at district office, or the anchor outside of Liberty Middle School. We have an award in the district called the Mill Town Pride Award. When presenting this award, we talk about how it represents the best of who we were, are and want to be as a community. We use the certificate below and have a pin of the mill that we hand out.
We understand and appreciate the passion about Papermakers. We embrace it along with the rest of our history. If you’d ever like to chat let me know.
I also sat down for an hour with Mr. Oster, who provided insight on this topic. During the discussion he also talked about the uniform design process.
”I want to make sure the community understands that the students are very proud to be called Papermakers,” said Oster. “We’re not ashamed of being Papermakers. There have been thousands of conversations about this, and we embrace the history. Regarding the phrase ‘Roll Makers’ the first time I heard the phrase was four years ago — one of our volleyball student athletes gave an interview and said it at the end of the interview. It really took off with our students and coaches from there. It was about the same time frame as Russell Wilson saying ‘Go Hawks’ after every interview.”
Camas School District Communications Director, Doreen McKercher, offers a different perspective on the shortening to ‘Maker.’ She said that it happened during the Fall of 2011 when students created a spirit campaign called “Meet Your Maker.” The theme was present at many CHS athletic events.
McKercher emphasized it was a student-driven effort, and not an official movement to change the mascot name.
Papermaker Uniform Design Process
One of the things that offend many in the community is using the term “Maker” on official school uniforms.
So, Oster explained the uniform design process.
”Every three years, each team captain, along with their coaches re-design their team uniform,” said Oster. “They use design websites like Nike Uniform Builder, and decide what to put on the home uniform and on the away uniform.”
The students decide what to put on the sleeve, on the front of the jersey, and they can change colors and lettering, but that there is a standard Camas red that is used. They generally put “Camas” on the home jerseys and Papermakers or Makers on the away jerseys. Or sometimes they put the Camas “C” on.
He said sometimes the name “Papermaker” is too long to fit across the jersey — and sometimes that depends on the font used, as well.
“They copy what they see happening at the collegiate level,” he said. “And once the coach and captain make their design decisions, they submit those to me for final approval.”
The next round of uniform design changes will appear on jerseys this Fall. The football updates are already done, and volleyball and girls soccer are in the works.
”I really do want to emphasize these kids are proud of being called Papermakers,” he said.