It all started as a classroom assignment.
A couple of eighth-grade boys in Cindy Glavin’s class complained about the size of lunch served at Big Timber Grade School, which sparked conversation about other changes students wanted to see at the school.
Everything from better chairs in the classrooms to the addition of a water fountain was brought up and in total, the 18 students came up with 23 possible ideas to bring to the board.
But two items seemed daring and challenging enough to pursue together: changing the grade-point system from 12-point to a 4-point system and swapping out the 70-year-old mascot, the Lions, to the community-adored Herders.
Arguing for a change in the grade point system was easy enough for the young students. At the March 8 BTGS board meeting, the board of trustees unanimously agreed to move forward with the new system after the students presented their case.
But the beloved, yet not very well-known, Lions mascot caused a hold up for the trustees who felt a tradition might be lost if they let go of the Lion.
BTGS student Leslie Edden, who will be a Herder herself in just a few months, told trustees that the younger students they surveyed for the project had no idea they were actually a Lion. Nearly every grade schooler in the lower grades that was questioned was positive they were already a Herder, and the upperclassmen surveyed wanted a change, for the most part.
“Thirty-eight students wanted it to change, four said no, and two said they didn’t care because they already thought that we were the Herders,” Edden, 14, told the board of trustees.
Student presenters said the purple and gold Lions mascot was formed in the 1940s when the grade school wanted a basketball team. But finding the funding was a struggle for the parents involved and, graciously, the local Lions Club was the first group to sponsor the budding team. The colors switched to blue and white in 2000 for the sake of unity with the high school and in the hopes that the uniforms bought could possibly be shared between the schools sometime down the road.
Following the March board meeting, the trustees requested the students approach the Sweet Grass County High School Board of Trustees and the Big Timber Lions Club about the change before they moved any further in the project.
At the April BTGS board meeting, the students gave an update on the status of the project: the high school board believed it was up to the grade school board, and the Lions Club was mostly in favor of sticking with the same mascot.
BTGS Superintendent Mark Ketcham, also a member of the local Lions Club, said the project spurred discussion between club members as to how they could be more involved with the grade school moving forward.
Finding enough volunteers for coordinating events was a struggle for the club, especially after involvement in the Lions has declined throughout the years, he said.
But, overall, the group expressed an interest in holding tournaments for the teams and helping to purchase uniforms for the school athletes when possible.