Watertown High School students will soon choose a new mascot, and perhaps even a new nickname.
For years the WHS teams have been called the Red Raiders or just Raiders, but since around 2007 the school has not had a mascot or logo on its uniforms and other places. Before that the school used a cartoon-like image of an American Indian.
“There hasn’t been a mascot since I got here,” said Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald. “There is a ‘W’ on any clothing I have. The kids miss having a mascot.”
WHS students have will choose the new mascot/logo in a contest, that ends this month.
“I’ve heard Watertown Wolves or Watertown Wildcats,” said senior Rebecca Hellman, one of the WHS Student Representatives to the School Committee.
“Some students are very upset about it,” Hellman told the School Committee. ” But it is time to move on.”
Watertown High School Head Master Shirley Lundberg said the change occurred before she arrived, but as far as she knows it was a decision made by the school, not one mandated by the MIAA.
“We are trying to fill the gap,” Lundberg said. “If they want to keep Raiders, fine with me. If not, it’s fine with me. I want to have something that the students have a voice in choosing.”
The switch over started around the time that the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign had a controversy over its mascot, the Illini, and the mascot – an Indian called Chief Illiniwek. WHS students watched a film called “In Whose Honor” followed a woman who fought to end the use of the image of an American Indian to represent Illinois.
Calls for changing mascots featuring Native Americans have occurred at all levels of sports. High schools in the area such as Natick and Dedham, changed their name, and the NCAA will not allow images of Native Americans, and this year the University of North Dakota is replacing its long-time mascot – the Sioux. One of the most vigorous debates is over the the NFL’s Washington Redskins name, which some argue is a very offensive name for American Indians.
The only rules are that it must be something that can be easily reproducible by embroidering or silk screening, it must be original and it may not “stereotype any group, race or nation of people.”
Submissions are due May 13 and can only be made by current WHS students. Class officers will narrow the finalists and the finalists will be posted on May 14. Students and staff will vote on May 19 and the winning logo will be announced on May 22.