116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The Wolves are finding their roar at Marion Independent schools as students embrace a new mascot.
The district adopted the mascot last year after its previous mascot — the Indians — was seen as culturally insensitive.
What’s happened since
Since then, students have been embracing the Wolves mascot by establishing new traditions, learning new cheers and preparing to unveil the mascot costume during the homecoming parade Oct. 13 at Thomas Park.
Students start the day at Starry Elementary School, 700 S. 15th St. in Marion, listening to Principal Chad Zrudsky give morning announcements over the intercom. At the end of the announcements, Zrudsky says, “Go Wolves!”
“Without prompting, these kids started a wolf howl,” said Lanie Dunne, Starry teacher and cheerleader sponsor. “It happened organically, and it’s the neatest thing.”
As a cheerleader sponsor, Dunne has been working with the cheer coach team and students on incorporating “Wolves” into new material.
Some are simple such as “Wolves, Wolves, red and gold.”
Others take a little more thought.
One cheer that’s been a part of the community since the 1980s spelled out Marion Indians.
“That one was much more challenging for our cheerleaders to adapt to and change,” Dunne said. “We had to figure out a new cadence to spell ‘Marion Wolves.’”
Cheering at games using the Wolves cheers has been fun and challenging, Dunne said. “We’ve made some mistakes, and that’s OK.”
While there was some community pushback about changing the mascot earlier this year, Dunne said the students have “embraced it.”
“As a Marion graduate, it was difficult for me, but that chapter is done, and we’re going to move on,” she said.
Only about half the district’s athletic jerseys needed to be replaced because they said Indians or had the old logo on it, said Mike Manderscheid, Marion Independent activities director.
The new mascot is adding a special aspect to homecoming this year, Manderscheid said. An “elite” group of students who have volunteered to be in the Wolves costume during homecoming week are being kept a secret, he said.
Being able to host a homecoming parade at all is exciting after it was canceled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Manderscheid said.
It also will be the last homecoming game at Thomas Park. A $31 million bond was passed by voters in March for the construction of a new activities complex, elementary school and other improvements.
The activities complex — part of a $5.7 million project — will be at Marion High School.
“That’s another exciting piece of history,” Manderscheid said.
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