Highlander (noun): 1. a Gael inhabiting the highlands of Scotland
2. a soldier of a Highland regiment
3. an inhabitant of any Highland region
Tonight I attended Westmount Secondary School's 50th reunion in Hamilton. It was nice to reminisce under a big white tent with people that I hadn't seen for 25 years. It was nice to see my name still engraved on the marble wall in the foyer. It was nice to walk down the hall where I used to have my locker. However, one important thing was missing: the giant crest in our gymnasium with the Highlander playing the bagpipes and the words Laboris Dulcedo (Sweetness in Work) emblazoned across the bottom. I had to get to the bottom of this: where was my Highlander?
Well, a lady I met in the hall explained to me that my Highlander suffered a cruel death at the hands of Political Correctness. Apparently, the Highlander, who watched me play volleyball, badminton and basketball, the Highlander who watched me dance to "True" by Spandau Ballet during school dances, the Highlander who watched me cheer from the stands during pep rallies, the Highlander who watched over decades of Westmount students, he offended someone. So they painted over him and replaced him with a Wildcat.
Rather than spending money on textbooks or on computers, or on hiring a new teacher, or on hiring a new custodian, they bought cans of paint to cover up my Highlander. But it doesn't stop there: they had to buy more paint to decorate the gym with the new crest. They had to use someone's time (and maybe pay them) to design the new Wildcat logo. They had to throw out the old Highlander crest emblazoned on stationery in the office. They had to erase my Highlander from their online website. They had to purge the entire school of my Highlander, Soviet style, as my political scientist husband would say.
Rob says why stop at the Highlanders? What about his alma mater, the Sherwood Saints? Rob and his schoolmates used to sing the Christian hymn "When the Saints Go Marching In" before every football game. Or why stop there? How about the Minnesota Vikings? Or how about the Chicago Blackhawks, Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins, and Atlanta Braves? We'd better hurry because we have cans of paint and rollers to purchase, painters to hire, artists to employ and techies to track down, all in the name of political correctness.
Back at Westmount, my husband and I said goodbye to the gray-haired alumni in the tent and went around to the front of the school where we met a pony-tailed brunette who is currently in Grade 10. She vouched for us that the school is still a great place, just as it was 25 years ago. It still has great teachers. It still has great students. It still has great sports' programs. But I still knew something was missing.
When I got home, I took off my name tag that said Linda (Tufts) Jonasson and I thought: I'm glad they didn't paint over my name in the foyer, or change it to something else. Tucked inside my name tag holder was a stationery pad with two crests emblazoned on the bottom: the Highlanders on the left and the Wildcats on the right. Taking a page from Soviet history, I took out the scissors and cut out the Wildcats: I find them offensive. Long live the Highlanders!
P.S. I went online to find the Westmount Highlanders crest and it is all but erased. I found it only on one website and am currently trying to copy and paste it.