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The remains of a shipwreck just off the coast of Camp Kinser was taken out of the ocean in December. Kinser Elementary School’s nickname, the Clippers, was based off of the wreckage. Since the ship has been removed, students voted for a new mascot name, but the majority wanted the Clipper name to stick.

The remains of a shipwreck just off the coast of Camp Kinser was taken out of the ocean in December. Kinser Elementary School’s nickname, the Clippers, was based off of the wreckage. Since the ship has been removed, students voted for a new mascot name, but the majority wanted the Clipper name to stick. (Courtesy of Eva Giles)

CAMP KINSER, Okinawa — Kinser Elementary School students recently faced a dilemma: Keep the mascot name they have come to know and love, or change to something new. It was a reasonable task put to the student body by the school’s student council — after all, the shipwreck off the coast that gave them the “Kinser Clippers” name has been removed.

The school opened in 1987 and replaced the old Makiminato school, whose mascot was the Manatee. But the old mascot didn’t stick as the phrase Kinser Clippers caught on, according to teacher and student council advisor Laura Stoller.

The ship that wrecked just off the coast at the school was registered in Taiwan and ran aground in 1986 while heading into Okinawa during a typhoon evacuation, according to the Naha Port Authority. The port authority made the decision to remove the wreckage citing environmental safety reasons. The project began in late November 2005 and finished at the end of March.

With the ship gone, Stoller proposed a possible school name change to the student council, and they went full steam ahead. Instead of holding a straight ballot vote, the council decided to raise some funds while determining a new name, if that’s what students voted for. The choices were: remain the Clippers, the Habus (poisonous snakes native to Asia), the Tsunamis, or the Manatees, according to student council president Jeffrey Black, a fifth-grader, who voted for the Tsunamis.

Four “coin jars” sat in the cafeteria and students voted for the names by dropping change or bills into the corresponding jar. Students voted overwhelmingly to remain the Clippers, which netted about $65. Habus was second with $20, Tsunamis followed with $15, and Manatees was sunk with less than $5.

Matthew Vohr, a fifth-grader and student council representative, said the name stayed the same because supporters simply gave more money.

“One kid threw $10 in the ‘leave it the Clippers’ jar,” said Matthew, who voted for Tsunamis.

Fellow fifth-grader Ryan Taylor, who is the second vice president and wanted to be called the Habus, said he feels ripped off because “people just threw large amounts of money in the Clippers jar.”

Student council members Asami Johnson and Frances Morales, both fourth-graders, said they voted to keep the Clippers name.

“It’s been the mascot for a long time,” Asami said. “If we changed it we would have to repaint the school and change everything.”

Frances said she’s just used to the name and she “didn’t want to be a poisonous snake.”

Stoller said the final tally didn’t surprise her.

“The kids are used to it and it does sound catchy,” she said.

While the name didn’t change, the school was able to raise a little more than $100. Jeffrey said the money will be used to purchase school supplies or for school events.

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