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Yuma High’s mascot earns Arizona’s top honor

Students at Yuma High School are being called Criminals, and they’re happy about it!

“We are proud to be Criminals, and this is what we stand for,” said Yuma High student body president Riga Orta.

The Criminal is Yuma High’s mascot. It’s been named as the best High School Mascot in Arizona. The Criminal won 95 percent of the online voting in the Arizona Competition for USA Today’s National Best Mascot Contest. It beat out the Gila Bend Gila Monsters, the Heritage Academy Heroes, the Page San Devils and the Valley Vista Monsoon.

Yuma High Principal Faith Klostreich tells KYMA-TV that she’s pretty proud of the win.

“This is a source of pride for the entire community because of the history behind the Criminals,” Klostreich said.

Yuma High School started in 1909, with the first classes held at the Yuma Territorial Prison. In 1914, Yuma beat Phoenix Union for the Arizona high school football championship. Outraged Phoenix fans called the Yuma team a “bunch of criminals.” The name stuck, and was adopted by the Yuma School Board three years later.

The mascot now moves on to the next round of the national contest, were it will be competing in an online vote with mascots from all 50 states. Orta said Yuma students are going all out to win.

“I walk around some of the computer monitors in classes and stuff and I see some of the students online voting,” said Orta. “We want to win this. We want the pride.”

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