controversial mascots

Watertown High School Votes to Change Mascot

NBC Connecticut

Watertown High School has selected its new mascot, the Warriors, after the Board of Education voted to retire its Indians name this winter.

Watertown is the latest town reacting to a years-long controversy and discussion about how such names can be considered offensive and harmful.

Part of the budget bill could withhold some funding from schools that continue to use Native American mascots.

The decision was made by students in grades 8-12 and faculty made the announcement earlier this week, according to school officials. Out of over 110 original submissions, the Warriors received the most number of votes by a substantial margin.

“The selection process for a new school mascot is just as serious as it is joyous. It is a process that our district thought about with extreme care at every step, seeking input from within our schools and the wider Watertown-Oakville community,” said Superintendent Alison Villanueva.

Back in January, the Board of Education voted to retire the high school's Indians mascot. A committee was formed to aid in the process of selecting a new mascot.

“Watertown High School’s legacy is embedded in the people who learned, taught and worked there--from past to present. With the overwhelming vote, we cap the selection process and turn enthusiastically to the future,” said Villanueva.

The school district aimed to get students involved in the selection process in the spring. They also opened up the process to eighth graders "who would be joining high school in just a year's time."

The Mascot Committee also recommended that the school district expand education programming and curriculum to include Native American Studies and the history of the Watertown/Oakville community.

“We are reviewing our curriculum to see where the history of Native Americans, and a deeper exploration of our own local communities history could be interwoven throughout our existing social studies curricula,” said Lisa Fekete, the director of curriculum and instruction.

In October, students and faculty cast another vote to narrow the top 15 mascot submissions down to five: Blackhawks, Warriors, Tigers, Wolves and Wildcats. Ultimately, the Warriors were chosen and the decision was revealed in a Tiktok.

Now, students will be able to help design the new mascot logo. School officials say a graphic design contest will take place in the spring.

“It will take time for our students to come to a final design that we can all call our own,” said Villanueva. “We are eager for the day when, as Watertown High School Warriors, we continue to make more memories when we attend athletic games, proudly watch our students walk the stage during graduation and during other momentous occasions that take place over a student’s academic career that we take with us into the future forever."