Port Townsend High School heads into final year with Redskins mascot
The Redskins name and logo appear in the Port Townsend High School gymnasium in this photo taken last spring. -- Peninsula Daily News photo
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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David Engle said Monday that the district will begin seeking volunteers in three areas — the staff, the community and the students — to assemble and make recommendations for a new mascot for the school’s athletes.
Port Townsend teams will play as the Redskins during the upcoming school year, but the coaches have been instructed that this is the time for them “to say goodbye to the mascot,” Engle said.
The school’s colors — red and white with black highlights — will not change, Engle said.
The board unanimously voted June 24 to retire the name of Redskins “with honor and dignity” and conduct a “student- and community-based process to replace it.”
Additionally, the board voted to adopt a curriculum that teaches the history of Native Americans and is meant to promote racial sensitivity.
This followed a yearlong process involving a committee that examined community response to the mascot and issued findings that the mascot had a negative effect on the district.
As outlined by Engle, the three committees will meet separately to develop recommendations and then together to make the final selection.
Engle said board members were free to be involved in the process, though he recommended against their involvement because of the controversy of the board’s decision to retire the mascot created.
“We want this decision to be generally owned,” he said.
“We’ve taken enough heat on this already.
“The board won’t be involved in the selection of the new mascot, although they will vote to approve the final recommendation,” he added.
“I won’t be involved in the selection, but I will be working to implement the new curriculum.”
Engle said 15 or 16 people will be recruited for each committee, although the staff group could have fewer people.
“Anyone who serves on the committees will need to be committed to changing the mascot,” Engle said.
“This is not the place for people who want to stop the process.”
Each group will meet three or four times during the first part of the school year, with joint meetings to take place from March to May.
A final decision will be addressed at the June 2 School Board meeting, according to the schedule.
While the committees will operate separately, newly hired Athletic Director Scott R. Wilson will be “the de facto head of the process,” Engle said.
During the Redskins mascot’s 88-year lifespan, several efforts have been mounted to replace it with another symbol, but the board did not take action on the matter until this year.
High school Principal Carrie Ehrhardt told the board that many people at the school favor a new mascot with a two-syllable name as it will allow existing cheers to be easily rewritten.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or email@example.com.
Last modified: August 27. 2013 6:12PM