In July the Killingly High school mascot name was changed from Redmen to Red Hawks. It was a controversial decision, replacing a moniker in place for generations with one considered more racially sensitive.
“Late June, two students petitioned their classmates and brought that to the board and ultimately the board made the decision to change the name,” explained Steve Rioux, Killingly’s superintendent of schools.
That decision could be reversed. It’s an emotional debate in Killingly and is scheduled to be publicly discussed during a December 11 Board of Education meeting.
“I believe there will be a big turnout because a lot of people didn’t want it changed,” said Amy Beaupre of Brooklyn.
The mascot debate is so heated, some believe it impacted the November Board of Education elections.
“The incumbent Democrats that were voted out, I think the source of that was the mascot. The blame was put on them, probably unfairly,” said Kevin Cole of Killingly.
Republicans gained a Board of Education majority and now hold six of the nine seats. Among those newly elected is 20-year-old Justin Muscara, who said he favors reversing the mascot decision.
“I personally am in favor of reinstating the Redmen name,” he said. “I feel like there were many people in town and in the surrounding community that their opinion wasn’t heard and they were ignored.”
The vote could come during the meeting next week. A motion to rescind would need to be made and a majority decision would be required. Rioux said he hopes the board keeps the student’s interest their priority.
“The school board has a responsibility to support its 2,600 students and some of those students don’t have the ability to advocate for themselves so they look to the adults to do that for them,” Rioux said.
If there is a vote next week Rioux is not sure how it will go. He said there are one or two board me who are undecided and a five person majority would be required.
The public turnout is expected to be so large it will be held in the Killingly High School auditorium at 7 p.m.