The Killingly community remained divided over the future of the high school’s mascot Wednesday as the school board voted to undo a name change approved this summer, but not to return to the original title.
Earlier this year it was changed to the Red Hawks, but that angered many in town. They want to return to the original mascot, the Redmen, which some found offensive.
Wednesday students, alumni and other community members spoke out as the Killingly School Board considered returning the high school’s mascot back to the Redmen.
The board's vote Wednesday night approved ending the Red Hawks as the mascot, but failed to reinstate the Redman name. The chair called to create a subcommittee to find a compromise.
Before the passionate meeting, people handed out paper cranes to promote peace.
And outside members of a church offered hugs and cookies.
“This has become a really divisive issue for our community and it was really important for the church to come out and remind each other we were neighbors before this and we will be neighbors after this meeting,” said Rev. Jonathan Chapman of the Westfield Church.
Emotions have been running high since the board voted back in July to change the mascot to the Red Hawks.
Many felt the original mascot – the Redmen – was outdated.
“I believe very strongly that it is a racist symbol even if it’s not meant to be. I find it offensive and I think we’re better than that,” said Lisa Vance, who teaches at the school.
“It’s 2019. We’re going into 2020. We should just evolve already and move past using names that are historically seen as a slur,” said resident Danielle Hughes.
Some believe the heated debate impacted the November elections which led to Republicans taking control of the school board and the issue coming back up. At least one Republican member felt the entire community wasn’t listened to.
“I’m hoping people realize this isn’t about racism. This is just about pride. Killingly Redmen were named many years ago as a heroic, prideful thing,” said Carie LaPointe.
“I hope we can all come together and realize this is just we basically consider ourselves Redmen,” Angel Davis of Plainfield said.