JAMESTOWN – An effort to rebrand Jamestown High School’s mascot continues as some ‘Red Raider’ imagery was recently removed from the school’s gymnasium.
In the past six months a community conversation about the school’s logo, imagery and name has brought together students, parents, staff and community members through a committee launched by Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker in July.
Since then the group decided to remove some Native American imagery. Before students returned to in-person classes this month, the district painted over some of the logos in the gymnasium.
Whitaker says the process is happening to prepare the school for a new mascot.
“We start with the low hanging fruit, like the stuff that is taped up, the posters for example, and then we progress to the really difficult stuff,” says Whitaker. “What would be most expensive thing be? Probably a toss-up between the gym floor and the football field.”
Whitaker explains the district has a financial responsibility to taxpayers to not overspend on the project and the school plans to make changes overtime.
The Superintendent says discussions about what could be a new mascot are far from over, and the district plans to get input from everyone in the community.
“It’s important that we are not disrespectful to those who have a sense of honor and pride about their high school and about their experience in their high school and whether their nickname was one thing or another they associate that with the prideful time that they had as part of the high school,” explained Whitaker. “Really this is a coming together more than a tearing apart, and it’s important for the committee, and they do understand, that this decision isn’t a ‘yes, no, check the box, let’s move on’, because it runs a lot deeper than the name, image or imagery.”
He says the challenging discussion going forward will be around the name, which the Seneca Nation says standing alone isn’t necessarily negative, however, over the past thirty to forty years was associated with the Red Raider imagery.
Whitaker says the discussion should benefit students, showing them that honoring and appreciating those with different experiences is the proper thing to do.