While the Washington Redskins are fighting to keep their controversial team name, it was presumed that high schools would begin disassociating themselves from the likeness.
That’s exactly what happened in Washington state.
The Peninsula Daily News reported Monday that the Port Townsend School Board unanimously decided to ditch the “Redskins” name for Port Townsend High School after 87 years of existence.
“No one believes the Redskins name and symbol are intentionally hurtful or disrespectful toward Native Americans,” said School Board member Ann Burkhart, who made the motion. “But I fail to see how a symbol, even a revered symbol, that is generally acknowledged to be divisive can be helpful in preparing students for success in the increasingly connected and collaborative 21st Century.”
The campaign to remove the name started in 2012, when local resident Andrew Sheldon wrote the School Board, saying he’s “offended, embarrassed and ashamed by our school mascot.”
After an eight-member “study group” examined the impact of the name, it was decided it “should be retired with honor and dignity. . . We need to accept that the culture has gone beyond us and that it is time to change.”
Sheldon’s efforts came to a head on Monday, as 275 people gathered in the high school’s auditorium, many split into factions for or against the move.
The School Board approved the motion, and issued the following statement:
“Recognizing that the ‘Redskins’ name and logo has a long, cherished history with Port Townsend High School and its alumni, the School Board also recognizes that it is a divisive issue for the school, community and region.”
Some Port Townsend residents, including Native American and PTHS graduate Terri McQuillen, don’t believe the change was necessary.
“I didn’t [take offense to the name], because I was raised to understand my responsibility is to take my name and make it proud,” McQuillen said.
It’s always a little disheartening to see something as longstanding as this affected by political semantics. But Port Townsend High School isn’t the first to change its name, and it surely won’t be the last, either.
(Photo credit: Patrick J. Sullivan/ptleader.com)