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Indian River debates choice of school logo

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PHILADELPHIA — The Indian River Central School District will look for public input as it decides which one of its logos it will proceed with for future uniforms and clothing.

The logo choice was debated Thursday, with the district’s Board of Education weighing the tradition, use and appropriateness of one with a Native American man’s face, or another with an arrowhead. There did not appear to be any interest in creating a new logo for the district.

Board member Donald L. Brumfield said when he saw the district’s football team, nicknamed the Warriors, play in Syracuse for the Section 3 Class A football championship, he noticed fans with multiple team logos.

“I just think it needs to be one,” he said. “Indian River shouldn’t show up someplace and have five different things that say Indian River.”

In early debate, some board members drew lines in the sand on the appropriateness of the face logo.

Board member John F. Love said he would never support it.

“For us as a board and a school system to say ‘Hey, we’re using this’ when we know a number of Native American people have an issue with that would be like slapping them,” he said.

Fellow board member Robin R. Johnson, who said she had Cherokee ancestors, said she was proud of the face logo.

Several board members, some wearing clothes and pins with the different logos, pointed out the controversy the National Football League’s Washington Redskins are having with their team name and logo.

High school Principal Troy W. Decker pointed out the purpose of any mascot was to provide a group a point of strength and pride, and said the district’s face logo has done that for 55 years. However, he said, the arrowhead logo has had a similar impact in the 10 years it has been in existence.

“Both symbols represent strength and pride, and our sports teams and music teams and clubs and schools have really gathered behind both of those,” Mr. Decker said.

Board members said they would seek out community opinion on the issue, and also asked Mr. Decker to gauge student opinion on the mascot choices.

Mr. Decker said he would take up the debate in his school’s advanced social studies classes.

After the meeting, Superintendent James Kettrick said a question about the mascot will be added to a poll given to those who vote on the district’s budget this coming spring. A decision about the mascot may not be made until next summer.

Thursday’s mascot discussion was a part of multiple discussions about formalizing the school’s look and traditions. The board voted to add navy blue to its colors, along with Columbia blue and white.

It also approved all three verses of its alma mater, while removing language saying how the song would be performed.

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