West Hartford to Keep Names, Change Logos of School Mascots

Officials in West Hartford, Conn., voted Tuesday night to keep the names of the town's two high school mascots – the Chieftan and the Warrior – but change their logos in light of a raging debate about their use of Native American imagery.

West Hartford Board of Education member Jay Zarzen said the decision is an effort to appeal to both sides of the argument.

The new policy mandates that "all school-sanctioned and school-funded mascots, symbols, images, and nicknames shall respect and be sensitive to diverse cultural values and the importance of inclusion," according to documents from the board of education.

Residents have been divided on the issue, and hundreds attended a meeting last month to discuss the future of the Hall High School Warrior and the Conard High School Chieftan.

Among the 60 or so residents who signed up to speak at the board of education meeting, both factions were represented at the podium. One speaker urging the board to “choose respect over tradition,” while the following speaker said he thought the mascots were “nothing racist, nothing offensive, nothing derogatory and nothing belittling.”

The board of education will hold another meeting next Wednesday to brainstorm and vote on changes to the mascot logos, according to board member Mark Overmyer-Velazquez.

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