Merced Union High School District board members unanimously approved administrative recommendations to make the new El Capitan High School colors powder blue, black and a hint of gold and retain the gaucho as the official campus mascot.
The original El Capitan High, which operated between 1959-1962, had the same school colors and mascot. While there was some concern that a gaucho, the equivalent of a South American cowboy, is a male-dominant figure, a plan to have a committee study the mascot name was scuttled.
Students of the future $85 million high school off Bellevue Road in North Merced will be called on to craft the colors and actual design of the new gaucho mascot.
El Capitan High alumni association representative Mike Bik said there are five California schools with gauchos as the mascot. Three are high schools, one is a community college and the University of California at Santa Barbara. All these schools have both male and female athletes with no gender issues raised over their gaucho mascots.
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Trustee Mike Carpenter said he likes the idea of a school developing an identity even before it is built. The decision is made easier by the fact the mascot existed before.
District officials needed a decision soon on colors for the new campus due to open in about two years.
Bik said he is trying to find out how the gaucho happened to be designated the school's mascot 52 years ago.