The soon-to-be first student body of a newly-consolidated Vance County High School went the unconventional route when picking the school's mascot and school colors.
The Vance students, who were allowed to vote for their preferred nickname, chose "Vipers" over Panthers, Phoenix, and Falcons, athletic director Joseph Sharrow announced on Thursday. No other high school in the state has the Vipers nickname.
According to a list by Massey Ratings, only nine other high schools in the nation currently use Vipers, compared to 814 Panthers, 378 Falcons and 30 Phoenix.
Vance County will have a green and black color scheme, a departure from both Southern Vance (the Raiders, which wore Columbia and dark blue) and Northern Vance (the Vikings, which wore navy blue and gold). The two schools are just 5.4 miles from each other on opposite ends of Henderson.
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The consolidation was prompted by low enrollment at Northern Vance and Southern Vance; both have fewer than 800 students, a more than 50 percent decline from 2006. The school board voted in March to open Vance County High next fall. Vance County High will be housed at present-day Southern Vance, while Northern Vance will turn into the newly-consolidated Vance County Middle.
For athletics, the Vipers will be the size of a 3A school, but cannot move up a class until at least the mid-point of a realignment period. So Vance County will play one final year in 2A before joining a 3A conference — either the Big East 3A or the Big Eight 3A — in the fall of 2019.
Vance Senior High was formed in the 1960s and split into Northern and Southern Vance in 1990. Northern Vance kept Vance Senior's old mascot and colors.