Rutland, Danville schools discuss mascot changes

Published: Oct. 6, 2020 at 8:15 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2020 at 12:56 AM EDT
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - The conversation surrounding changing mascots at school districts is happening across the country. Here at home, two districts on opposite ends of the state are listening to community feedback.

During Tuesday night school board meetings, Rutland High School and Danville School’s mascots were a topic of discussion.

At both meetings, a statement from the Vermont Principal’s Association was read. It says, “We believe that mascots and all school symbols should support feelings of belonging and inclusivity for students in the wider community.” The association went on to say, “Any mascot, nickname, symbol, or logo that has marginalizing, racist or exclusionary elements should be replaced.”

More than 75 people attended Rutland’s open forum meeting. Of those, 28 spoke as the school board listened and took notes. Twenty-one people want to see a change in the mascot.

“Rutland as a whole is not a diverse community. But we have the responsibility to raise our students with an understanding of the world and life outside of RHS. Changing the racist Rutland mascot is one way to do this,” said Rachel Black, a 2009 Rutland High School alumna.

Seven people expressed support for keeping the mascot. They say not everyone in the community is being heard, referencing an online petition more than 2,000 people have signed, as well as a paper petition with another 700 signatures. The petition asks the school board to keep the Raiders name and the arrowhead logo.

“We’re going to be knocking on your door. The petition is just getting started. Save the Raiders. Go Raiders!” said Craig Hahn of Rutland.

During the Danville School meeting, the school board discussed a process for reviewing the school mascot. That’s because some students want the Danville Indians nickname changed.

“There is a lot of conversation that has to happen. If we ask people today, simply as students to say yes or no, as you’ve all mentioned, they are missing a huge part of the picture. So there is an educational component, there’s a research component and a determination component,” said Danville School Principal David Schilling.

Their final decision for a process of possible change is for teachers to openly discuss this matter with students and for community members to email school board members with opinions.

These conversations will continue in the upcoming months and most likely into next year.

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What will North Country school replace ‘Indians’ nickname with?

Will Rutland High School retire the Raiders?

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