GOSHEN, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana school district’s new mascot will become the RedHawks next year when its nearly 90-year-old Redskins moniker is retired.
The Goshen school board voted Monday to adopt the RedHawks mascot, effective Jan. 1, after deciding in July to stop using the Redskins nickname out of respect for Native Americans.
Current students at Goshen High School and Goshen Middle School and alumni who live in the district were able to vote last week on four finalists: the Gladiators, RedHawks, Spartans and Wolfpack. Goshen High School principal Barry Younghans said the RedHawks won with 53.3 percent of more than 3,000 votes.
Superintendent Diane Woodworth said the district will now work to change uniforms and clothes to reflect the new mascot. The RedHawks graphic was created by a 2005 Goshen High School graduate.
Board member Bob Duell, who supported changing the nickname, said he felt respected for his decision, though some didn’t agree with him. He asked the board to take up changing the nickname after members of the public spoke out at a June meeting.
“I think Goshen should be proud of how they handled it,” Duell said. “Sure, there are ups and downs, but we have moved forward and I’m excited about the future.”
The school board also tasked a mascot steering committee made up of students and a few faculty advisers of coming up with ways to honor the soon-to-be-retired mascot. Students met immediately after the board’s meeting to talk about how to move forward.
Senior Claire Palczynski, who is on the committee, said the atmosphere at school was tense at first when the decision to retire the Redskins name was made. She said students eventually accepted the decision and got excited about possibilities.
Palczynski said she’s happy RedHawks is the new mascot, but said encouraging the public to embrace it doesn’t mean forgetting the Redskins name.
“The community has this saying, “Once a Redskin, always a Redskin,'” she said. “That’s never going to change. We’re never going to bury and forget what we were.”