KILLINGLY, Conn. (WTNH) — The Killingly Board of Education has voted to change the mascot for their high school back to what it was for decades.
When Killingly High School competed for the state championship last month, a K was the only logo on its helmets.
After a contentious year, which saw the longtime Redmen mascot removed and replaced by the Red Hawks, the Board of Education Wednesday night voted 5 to 4 to reinstate the Redmen.
Like past meetings the debate was heated.
“We aren’t the mascot. The Native Americans are the mascot and it’s wrong of us to decide if it’s offensive or not,” said Killingly High School student Jessica Long.
She was among several students testifying why they thought the high school team should not be changed back to Redmen. Some school board members read statements on why it should.
“Well I think there’s a lot of history so I think that’s nice for the people who have already been invested in this town for so many years,” said Cally Robbins, of Killingly.
As part of Wednesday night’s motion, a subcommittee was created to look into updating the logo so it doesn’t portray any negative stereotypes of Native Americans and is displayed with cultural sensitivity and in a historically correct manner.
It will also look into developing an educational curriculum which would instill in students an appreciation for Native American heritage.
“Could maybe make him smile a little more. Brighten up his feathers a little bit,” suggested Jeremy Chartier, of Killingly.
He went to Killingly High School.
“I don’t think it’s derogatory at all,” said Chartier. “I don’t see even how it could be derogatory.”
“There’s a phrase that when you know better, you need to do better and we didn’t do that and we set a terrible example for our students by saying we don’t care about your opinion,” said Board of Education member Hoween Flexer, who voted against reinstating Redmen.
“If the board doesn’t want to listen to the students’ opinions then we can just take matters into our own hands,” said Long.
She may look to state legislators with the hopes of passing a law like Maine which was the first to prohibit public schools from using a Native American symbol as a mascot, nickname, logo, letterhead, or team name.