ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP — Public opinion, along with a community discussion, will decide if Edgewood Senior High’s Warrior mascot should be replaced.
Two weeks ago, two online petitions — one to retire the mascot and one to keep the mascot — came to the attention of school officials, students, alumni and the Buckeye Local School District Board of Education. After some consideration, the school board on Monay released a statement, announcing they plan to survey the community and meet with local Native American groups.
“During these unusual times, we must consider the feelings of everyone involved to ensure that consideration regarding our mascot is meaningful and purposeful,” according to the board’s press release. “Recently, the District has received numerous emails and letters concerning its mascot, the Warrior, and the nature of its representation of Native American culture.
“The Board of Education believes in individuals coming together to form a collective voice and express concerns about their rights, the rights of others, and who have the independence and integrity to bring about social change. We are encouraged by the method of activism elected by our community. While the district is proud of its history and school traditions, it understands the depths of the presented concerns and values all individuals who have come forward to express their feelings, ideals, and perspectives on this issue.”
Board members recognize there is “tremendous dialogue” in the community regarding the Warrior mascot, and it appears to the board that the community is divided at this time.
“In order to make a responsible decision informed by our students, staff, and community, the school district will be sending out surveys regarding our mascot for the board to consider before making a final decision,” Superintendent Patrick Colucci said.
The Board of Education and school officials also will collaborate with local and state Native American groups, he said.
“We must understand the needs of our community, and most importantly our students, but it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge and honor local and state Native American groups whom we will reach out to for guidance and historical understanding of symbolism, imagery, and Tribal Nation pride,” he said.
For 57 years, Edgewood’s mascot has been a warrior, represented by a caricature of a Native American wearing a traditional headdress.
The petition at change.org that is titled, “Retire the Edgewood Warriors Mascot,” by Edgewood Senior High graduate Class of 2011, Ronny Woodburn, states: “As we continue into the new decade, it is becoming more and more clear that any and all behavior directed towards any group of marginalized people is unacceptable and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. This includes the usage of an indigenous person in the form of a mascot.”
As of Monday afternoon, the site received 637 votes to remove Warrior, according to www.change.org.
An online site started by Edgewood graduate Courtney Ross to keep the Warrior mascot garnered 2,261 votes by Monday afternoon, according to www.change.org.
“It is a school mascot something kids look forward to as a child,” she said. “At least I did. I am proud to be a Warrior and I always will be. Once a Warrior always a Warrior.”