Shorter version of chant approved at Hutch High

Parent complained 102-year-old cheer had racist origins

? Hutchinson High School has its 102-year-old chant back.

Sort of.

Call it Allagaroo II.

On Monday, the school board voted to approve a shorter version of the “Allagaroo” chant, which was suspended in January after a black parent complained that it had racist origins.

The new yell — proposed by an advisory committee and approved by the board — has been pared from 28 to 19 lines. It is noticeably missing the two words that generated the most controversy: “higger” and “bigger,” which replaced a rhyming racial slur that was part of the chant for nearly half a decade.

The board also agreed to the committee’s recommendation that the history of the cheer go up on the district’s Web site and be made available via hard copy or video for students and the public to see.

The chant was first written by students in 1901 and shares a name with the high school yearbook.

These are the words to the new Allagaroo chant, approved Monday by the Hutchinson school board:Allagaroo, garoo, garoo;Wah, hoo, bazoo;Hicer, picer, dominicer;Sis! Boom! Bah!Hutchinson High SchoolRah! Rah! Rah!La shoo, La shooLa shoo, Li Roo;La shoo, Li ishabackaIshabacka Boo.Hutchinson High SchoolHey Roo.Boom skit rat trapBigger’n a cat trapBoom skit a rat trapBigger’n a cat trapChicawaw ChicawawHutchinson High SchoolRah! Rah! Rah!

Supt. Wynona Winn researched the chant’s words and found some of them in a book about slave songs: things like “chicka,” “rat trap” and “bulligator.” She also discovered that “higger” and “bigger” did indeed replace a racial slur that first appeared in the Allagaroo in 1909.

After the board suspended the chant in January, some alumni complained that getting rid of the Allagaroo was tantamount to tossing aside a Hutch High legacy. But at the high school, many current students shrugged their shoulders — some said they never knew the words to the Allagaroo, anyway.

The board made no suggestions for an Allagaroo replacement in January, but later agreed to form a committee to explore a new chant.

The committee was picked in part by the school board, with representatives also chosen by the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Hutchinson High Alumni Assn. The group was a mix of people who had spoken for and against the Allagaroo — and those who hadn’t voiced an opinion at all.

Local historian Paul Waggoner, who researched the cheer’s origins and the history of the high school’s black students for the committee, called the revised Allagaroo “a good solution.”

And if future chanters of the Allagaroo are reminded of the controversy, Winn said that was not such a bad thing.

“I think it’s important that we remember that our community faced this challenge,” Winn said. “And we dealt with it. … We came together.”