A little bit about a lot of things:

• Community pride, schools and mascots often go hand in hand.....and that certainly is the case in Gustine and other small towns.

The issue was on full display last week, as the GUSD board wrestled with the selection of a mascot image for Gustine High before settling on that of a spartan, which was a narrow second to a knight in a poll of students.

One of the challenges inherent in the selection of the “Reds” nickname to replace the now-banned “Redskins” moniker three years ago was the question of just what exactly a “Red” was. The nickname simply didn’t bring an image immediately to mind....which made the question of finding an image to portray a “Red” no easy task.

I was torn by the board’s decision last week.

On the one hand, I think I like the spartan a little better than I liked the knight image....but on the other, the students were asked for their opinion and even though the margin of approval was razor thin the board went with a second choice rather than that preferred by the students.

Perhaps the most important thing, however, is that the school can now move forward with an image to go with its Reds name, ending what has essentially been a period of identity limbo for Gustine High School.

That’s a good thing.

I was reminded of just how personal such things feel shortly before the GUSD board took up its mascot issue, when learning that my old school district in small-town Iowa had reached a point where it is essentially dissolving its junior high and high school. Students in those grade levels, as I understand it, will choose which of the neighboring districts they want to attend next fall.

That’s a tough pill for a proud small town to swallow.

The school district had already consolidated, years ago, with a neighboring district (and long-time rival along the Orestimba-Gustine lines) and abandoned the quirky but cherished Cattlefeeder mascot with which I was raised, so today’s students have only known the combined schools and will forever be “Mavericks.”

I was saddened to learn of the demise of my hometown high school.

In many ways, a high school is very much part of a community’s soul and identities. As individuals, we take that identity forward in life.....which is why I completely understood the sentiments aired in the GUSD board meeting among those graduating GHS as Redskins always being Redskins.

Those ties are deep and long-lasting.

• Timing is everything, isn’t it?

I was quite proud of myself when I got around to putting a new Stephens Avenue parking sticker on my car windshield recently......so it just goes to figure, doesn’t it, that a day or two later I spot a crack running through the glass.

Of course.

• Love some of the things our schools are doing....including top chef-themed cooking competitions that both NCLUSD and GUSD have launched in recent years.

To me, some of the best learning is hands on, which is why I like things such as school gardens, shop classes and the like.

The cooking competitions allows students to learn culinary skills, explore new interests, showcase their creativity and so much more.

Pizza was the chosen dish at Hurd Barrington Elementary School when I stopped by last week.....what a great choice! I mean, who doesn’t like pizza?

And I have to tell you, from what I’ve seen of the work of contestants through contests past, some of these kids can more than hold their own with the adults when it comes to cooking!

• So....this is what spring feels like!

The mercury was in the neighborhood of 80 degrees last weekend, the sun was shining and you could almost see leaves emerging and blossoms popping on a variety of plants and trees.

We cleaned up the patio, fired up the grill, enjoyed the company of visiting family and pretty much spent the weekend doing, well, probably not as much as we should have done.

But somehow, it felt just perfect.

I know....showers are in the forecast again by the time you read this, so we’re probably not quite done with winter yet.

Still, what a glorious taste of spring!

Dean Harris the Managing Editor of the West Side Index and Gustine Press-Standard. He can be reached at dharris@mattosnews.com or by calling (209) 243-8104.