Rutland reacts to mascot reversal

Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 6:09 PM EST
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RUTLAND, Vt. (WCAX) - The Raiders nickname is back at Rutland High School after the city school board voted 6 to 5 Tuesday night to dump the Ravens moniker.

The board retired the mascot and arrowhead logo last year after deeming it offensive and hurtful to indigenous people. But the action sparked controversy in the community and months of feuding. Disagreements that don’t appear to be over following last night’s vote.

“Go to a Rutland football game on a Friday night. Those student bodies are not saying ‘Ravens,’ they are saying ‘Raiders,’” said Rutland City Public School Board Commissioner Stephanie Stoodley.

But Isabella LaFFemina, a senior at Rutland High School and student representative on the board disputes that.

“I know quite a lot of people in quite a lot of different circles that would say that first of all, they just want it to be over. And second of all, they understand where we are coming from -- that it is at this point racist and dividing us,” she said.

The 6 to 5 vote didn’t happen until after 11:00 p.m. Tuesday night and given that RHS students are taking exams this week, Principal Greg Schillinger says there wasn’t a lot of buzz about the decision Wednesday morning. “There’s a lot more to what’s happening at school than just this topic,” he said.

We tried to speak with families in the Rutland City School District, but this is such a divisive issue that no one would go on camera. Some say the school board took way too long with this and that there are more important issues like the pandemic. One former Rutland student said he believes the mascot is not racist and should stay. Another said that board members became too emotional over the subject. Others say they simply don’t care.

“There are those -- both adults and students -- who feel really passionately about it and those who do not,” Schillinger said. He says the board originally made the decision and tasked the students with finding a new mascot, but the entire student body has never weighed in on the matter. “People do talk about, ‘Well this is what the student body thinks.’ I don’t think that anybody has a really comprehensive answer on what do all of the students think.”

At the end of the meeting, Board Chair Hurley Cavacas said he hopes the new board holds community meetings like Danville did when changing their mascot.

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