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Summerour Middle School gets new mascot

NORCROSS - It may be Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, but Summerour Middle School retired the ferocious fish as its mascot Thursday.

In its place, the Norcross cluster middle school adopted the Blue Devil, which also represents Norcross High School.

The new mascot will help Summerour "reach out to the high school and bridge the gap that sometimes exists between middle school and high school," said Dana Pugh, the school's former principal who left to open Bay Creek Middle School.

In some of Gwinnett's clusters, all of the schools - elementary, middle and high - have adopted the same mascot, said Mary Kay Murphy, a Gwinnett County Board of Education member whose district includes the Norcross schools.

"It's a demonstration of community spirit and identity," Murphy said. "(Adopting the new mascot is) one further way for students at Summerour to distinguish themselves and prepare to become Norcross Blue Devils."

The Blue Devil is linked to military history, Norcross High principal Jonathan Patterson said. It was the nickname of a group of French infantrymen who fought in World War I.

"They were the elite of the elite," Patterson said.

Summerour principal Dorothy Parker-Jarrett said it's fitting for the school to be represented by a mascot with such a connotation.

"We are about pride and strength and honor," she said.

The school's former mascot, however, will not be forgotten. The shark-themed murals featured throughout the school will remain, and artists will incorporate the Blue Devil into the paintings.

Area Superintendent Gale Hey, a former Summerour principal, said the shark represented the school well, especially in competitions. During her tenure, she chose to make the shark look a bit more fearsome.

"I'm here under protest because I bought that shark suit. I wore that shark suit," Hey said, referring to the retiring mascot. "... But I will yield to the Blue Devils. Go Blue Devils!"