Common to the Armstrong-Spallumcheen region, the red-tailed hawk is a fierce bird. Majestic. A fighter.
It’s also the new name of the school teams and clubs for Armstrong’s Pleasant Valley Secondary School, which announced late Wednesday, May 19, the team names would be rebranded from the longtime Saints (boys) and Sinners (girls) to the PVSS Hawks.
The new logo features a hawk with a menacing look with one talon resting on the P in PVSS, the other about to set down on Rose Swanson Mountain with the Okanagan sun setting in behind.
There’s even a red-tailed hawk currently living outdoors above the school’s foods room.
Credit for the name idea goes to Karsten Bellows, a PVSS graduate who is now a custodian at the school.
Hawks beat out Torch Bearers and Mustangs in a decision made by the administration.
“I’m really happy with the outcome,” said PVSS principal Chelsea Prince who, along with vice principal (and former Sinner basketball player) Patti Lemaire, spearheaded a process more than a year ago to change the names to better reflect the times. “I like having Rose Swanson Mountain in the background, and I’m super excited that we can now have a costume for a mascot for the teams.”
Artist Meaghan Iversen, whose mom is a secretary at PVSS and whose father is a teacher in Armstrong at Highland Park Elementary, was commissioned to create the new logo, which was shared with School District 83 trustees this week.
Prince said the school’s Drumline group will likely be the first to debut the new name and look.
Prince was watching a high school volleyball game in 2019 when she heard PVSS parents chanting ‘Go Sinners Go.’ After a discussion with Lemaire, Prince decided to consult with staff and students about the names. The process, however, was interrupted by COVID-19 and resumed this year.
“We talked to a lot of people and we discovered the name Sinners was meant to empower, like ‘look at us, we’re meant to be badass,’” said Prince. “When the news got out that we were changing the names, we received a lot of feedback, lots of emails. The reaction was mostly positive. We had one woman who played as a Sinner and said the name mortified her.”
A gentleman was opposed to the name changes and brought in his old yearbooks from Armstrong High School that show the name Saints began in 1958 or 1959. He told Prince that Roger Lafontaine was the basketball coach and PE teacher and it was he who came up with the name after the popular song “Oh When The Saints Go Marching In.”
“When the team came on the floor, the crowd would sing the song,” said Prince. “Armstrong is a religious community and at that time, there was no reaction whatsoever to the name having religious connotations.”
The same Sinners, said Prince, did not appear until 1977 after a search of old yearbooks. Girls teams were also called Rockettes, including a junior squad in 1978.
Prior to 1958, Armstrong school teams were named the Flickers and Flickerettes.