JAMESTOWN – The process to reform Jamestown High School’s mascot is pushing ahead as the School Board plans to vote on changing the design.
The Jamestown Board of Education met to discuss the future of the school’s mascot on Tuesday night.
The committee tasked with changing the Red Raider imagery from the current “J with a feather” unveiled the proposed design last month: a big cat.
Superintendent Dr. Kevin Whitaker set up the committee after members of the community called for an overhaul of the design, citing disrespect to Native Americans.
Among those who led the reform charge was Area teacher, and Jamestown Justice Coalition member, Justin Hubbard.
“It’s not really about me, and it’s not really about anyone in Jamestown. It’s about Native American people, and how they are affected by this,” says Hubbard. “I would actually say that it is about some people in Jamestown, it’s about our students, and what we’re teaching them. We shouldn’t be teaching them that racist caricatures are allowed.”
The new big cat design, Whitaker explains, dates back to what was likely the school’s first official emblem, a big red and green cat, which first appeared in the 1930s.
“It is part of our history, it does take some explanation in order to understand where it came from,” explained Whitaker. “But I feel like once that explanation is understood then people will be more understanding of a change like this.”
Construction of the new mascot, he says, was a collaborative effort from people of all ages and backgrounds, from past staff to current students.
“From coaches, and long time employees, and past employees, retirees, all the way to students, current students,” stated Whitaker. “Came up with this idea and I thank them for that process, and I trust in the wisdom of groups.”
The proposed new mascot has not been approved by the Board yet, but they plan to put it to a vote at their February 1st meeting.
The current “J with feathers” replaced a “Red Raider” character in 2014. At this time, the district will keep the “Red Raider” name only associating it with the new imagery.