Mascot Center

** The main focus will be on the Deaf Department’s mascot as little is known for the Blind Department’s mascot. **

** All images below can be clicked on for a bigger view/version if necessary.



Brief History

1948 – Deaf Department introduces the Red Raiders mascot to help better identify students rather than being called ‘the deaf lads,’ ‘the VSD aggregation’ and other references by Mr. F Leon Baker
1959 – Blind Department introduces the Chief mascot in honor of Coach William Chief Burrows, also known as the father of VSDB Wrestling
1964 – Deaf Department changes mascot to Cardinals due to many similarities from other schools
Fall 2022 – VSDB Superintendent announces merging both mascots

** References can be found in the VSDB Images/Pictures Book by Faithlyn Robinson on pages 104105.  Other references can be found in the VA Guide (shown below) and the Little Acorn newsletter.


Pre-2022 References

Virginia Guide, Nov. 1966 article about welcoming the new Cardinal mascotVirginia Guide, Nov. 1966 article


Mack Harris compiled info on Mr Francis Leon Baker who apparently invented the Raiders mascot (see greyed out section)Mack Harris compiled information on Mr. Francis Leon Baker who apparently invented the Raiders mascot (see greyed section)


Daily News Leader, Jan. 11, 1986 article on the new VSDB Cardinal mascot suit
Daily News Leader, Jan. 11, 1986 article revealing the new Cardinal mascot suit


VSDB Strader Hall showing Cardinal, a gift by 1986? classVSDB Strader Hall showing the Cardinal home, a gift by 1986? class


Old (left) and new (right) Cardinal mascot suits shown, year unknown - between 1995-2013Updated Cardinal mascot suit (version 1 and 2 shown), year unknown (possibly between 1995-2013)

** The closest visible Chief reference on campus may be the street name in front of the Strader Hall facing the cardinal logo seen above. The street names were added @2011 at the fire department’s request when campus roads were not marked/named, and revealed during the big campus renovation following the merger of Hampton and Staunton schools.  If you know of any other examples on campus, let us know.

Sign post showing Cardinal and Chief Streets. The closest 'Chief' example on campus known. Courtesy of the Newsleader, March 8, 2023.

** There are several noticeable Cardinal markings inside the gym.  The gym floor features the bird on the center floor and the ‘cardinal’ word spelled out on the end of the court by stage.  Also on the back of the stage is a painted ‘Home of the Cardinal’ sign and banner (along with other state school mascots) .   It is not known when it was added as a 1951 dedication picture of the gym shows a bare-bones floor (See Faithlyn’s book, pages 118-119).  It should be noted that replacing the floor will not be cheap.  Pictures below from 2013 tournaments featuring goalball, basketball and cheerleading.  There are several other Cardinal markings on campus including the painted hood inside the Blehm Library building (formerly Stuart Hall) including uniforms as seen below.

VSDB Goalball 2013 with cardinal visible on floor Cardinal is spelled out on the end of the gym floor as well. Cardinal is visible on center of gym floor along with a banner under the scoreboard table also.

2022-2023 School Year

September 2022, VSDAA President Michele VanBoxlaere learned from VSDB Superintendent Pat Trice about the ‘One School’ plan and Michele shared the news on Sept. 6, 2022 (see  The news was also shared during board meeting on Oct. 1, 2022 and reunion meeting on Sept. 30, 2022 by Pat Trice. 


October 2022, Michele VanBoxlaere shared Pat Trice’s ‘One School’ email (PDF format) and chart outlining her plans below.

VSDB One School Schedule, Fall 2022 for students, Jan 2023 for employees and alumni then February 2023 for final ideas and voting to merge blind and deaf schools/mascots together

February 23, 2023, Pat Trice’s updated plans.  It should be noted that ‘One School’ plan changed to ‘Unified School’ plan. 

Overview of the unified plan

informational meeting for all employees, Feb. 23, 2023

3 student led workgroups planned with Tammy Waddell providing DeafBlind support, red and blue color goal, March-April 2023

Everyone votes on mascot, April 2023

Preservation of mascot history discussion, April-May 2023


March 2023, VSDB Board meets on March 8, 2023 in the Chapel.  There were news before and after the meeting, see below.

       *** Several letters were sent around this time and not all are posted here.  Some more exist on our Facebook pages.  ***


April 12, 2023, the Daily Moth (deaf newspaper) reported on VSDB Mascot debate, see  A copy of the video transcript can be found here (PDF version). 

Daily Moth logo

May 2023, VSDB released the 2 mascot options.  Some have noted that the Falcon looks similar to VSDB-H’s old Eagle mascot and another noted ‘another bird to replace the Cardinal?’  See the mascot ballot post.

This Defender is a fox-like image facing right. It has fur streaked with red and blue. Its snout has red, blue, and white fur. Its red eyes are intense with a determined stare. They are alert and see everything around it. There is a mix of red and blue feathers gathered closely around the neck. The feathers honor the history of the Cardinal and the Chief. The Defender’s ears are upright, alert and strong, listening intently even for the faintest sound. This Defender is bold, strong, fierce, alert, powerful, and protective. It is ready to attack quickly to defend VSDB. This Defender is a bird-like image. The image shows the full body of the bird with large, strong, outstretched wings. The wings give a sense of protection. The red and blue feathers honor the history of the Cardinal and the Chief. This Defender is shown in flight and resembles a falcon with a strong, sharp, tan beak with fierce piercing red eyes. Its talons are sharp and ready to pounce. This Defender is fast, alert, brave, confident, and daring. It is always listening and watching from the sky, ready to protect and defend VSDB.


Below is VSDB-H’s Eagle from their old website.  Thanks to wayback machine.  The blue/white colored eagle statue was an iconic sight on the old VSDB-H campus.

VSDBH Eagle Statue in front of school, circa 2002 VSDB Eagle mascot icon from their old website


A good number of comments (within the vote announcements) were noted saying that they were not voting (aka: boycotting) the new mascot votes so VSDAA set up a separate poll vote to record how many alumni are refusing to vote for the new mascot choices (fox/falcon).  Screenshot of boycotting poll.

ASL Coffee Podcast featured Dave Tester, Alissa Connover and Ricky Taylor discussing the VSDB environment on May 22, 2023.  See


June 4, 2023 – VSDB Movement (Deaf Alumni) announce rally/parade/protest plans on Beverly Street and Augusta Street in Staunton, VA on sidewalks on June 23 (Friday) and 24 (Saturday) at 9am.  Meet at the current SVCD building is, not by VSDB.  SVCD will act as a ‘headquarters’ for the rally.  More details to come.  Talk about a rally/protest started months ago and is not new. This is to make noise about VSDB about Pat Trice’s performance, not just about the mascot mess.

June 10, 2023 – A new petition ‘Calling to terminate Superintendent Pat Trice’s Contract’ can be found at 1 (top part), Screenshot 2 (bottom part).

June 13, 2023 – VSDB announces the mascot results.  See  The flyer announcement is also in Spanish on their Facebook post.  Screenshot of the Facebook post (click the link to view it).

** Do note that VSDAA has no plans to change the red Cardinal bird mascot and plans on keeping it.  **

VSDB is proud to announce its new Unified Mascot.... The VSDB Defender (fox like). Description of the fox follows with voting results. 3 groups voted for the fox, 1 group voted for the bird (eagle like) with VSDAA boycotting.

*** VSDB Rally/Movement page continues on at ***


June 22, 2023 – VSDB Mascot Preservation ideas start.  Deadline is July 8, 2023 and all ideas are to be sent to Linda Pierce of TEO Consulting that also did the mascot design.  See the preservation flyer for more details. 

** It should be noted that all stakeholders ideas are welcomed, although, it is not clear how students can be involved as they are on their summer break now. **



1. What does the Unified School plan mean?

It means getting rid of the current mascots – cardinal and chief to create a new mascot to represent both schools.  No more chiefs or cardinals.  The plan is to have a sense of unity to represent VSDB according the Superintendent.  The current 2022-2023 students have been empowered to create a new mascot to represent both schools.  The final decision should come out around the end of the school year.

2. What can I do regarding the mascot debate?

You can contact VSDB Board of Visitors (BOV) at, Department of Education (DOE), VA Governor (804-786-2211 office number or via website), state representatives (preferably your local representative), or other people that oversee the school.  You are welcome to show your support for Pat Trice’s unified school mascot proposal or express your support for keeping either mascot (cardinal or chief).  It is strongly encouraged that you do it professionally without insults.

You are more than welcome to join VSDAA or other groups that are working on this debate as they may have other options like protesting, news/public reporting, attending BOV meetings, etc.

3. Why is the VSDB website purple?

Red (cardinal) and blue (chief) colors mixed makes purple which is the temporary color for 2022-2023 year until a final decision happens according to VSDB Superintendent.  See example below or visit their website at

VSDB's website in purple for the 2022-2023 school year

4. Who started/supported the unified/one school plan?

According to the BOV minutes dated Sept. 20, 2022, Pat Trice noted plans to finish previous superintendent Nancy Armstrong’s work.  See page 9 at or this snapshot here.  This excerpt was from the Superintendent’s Report section and there is no indication that the BOV were aware of the mascot work earlier here. 

In other words, did BOV approve the mascot merging?  Unclear. 

Were students/staff consulted before the start of the mascot merging?  Unclear.

Do note that the BOV transferred to VSDB from DOE near the end of Nancy Armstrong’s time so it is not clear who supported the plan and when.

The current BOV draft dated March 8, 2023 draft minutes includes public comments from alumni present. 

VSDAA President Michele VanBoxlaere has attempted to contact any of the blind board/alumni reps with little luck to find out more about how the whole thing got started.  It is known that in 2011, former principal Jack Johnson attempted to merge the two mascots and a copy of Jack’s email with Alice Frick is here (PDF version) if curious.

Race Drake, former principal, sent a  comment to the BOV noting that he never heard of any mascot issues from either departments.  A copy of his letter is included here.  (PDF version)


Links of interest