PHILADELPHIA, N.Y. (WWTI) — The “Warriors,” no more.
This school year, the Indian River Central School District will change its mascot, following New York’s native mascot ban that was enacted in April 2023.
This law banned schools from using Native American names, mascots and logos. The ban had been proposed in New York following advocacy from the National Congress of American Indians and local Native American tribes.
Following the ban, Indian River issued surveys last spring to obtain feedback from students, staff and community members.
Now that the 2023-2024 school year has begun, Indian River plans to let students take charge.
“Our students are going to lead us through a process of mascot change that will help reinforce that same message, even if the name or picture is slightly different,” IRCSD Superintendent Troy Decker said.
According to Superintendent Decker, this fall the students will help lead surveys and analyze data. He said it may take up to three surveys to narrow down the options the district has for a new mascot.
“Roughly speaking, by the middle part of this school year, we’ll be at a point to have the students and community members and those involved make a recommendation to the board of education for adoption,” he explained.
But this will only be the beginning. Once a new mascot is chosen, Indian River will be required to remove the old logo and “Warriors” from across the district.
This will range from employee badges to sports signage and will come with a cost.
“The New York State Education Department is telling us that Indian River is fully responsible for all costs associated with the mascot change,” Decker said. “Costs are substantial, but we have been able to work with our capital funds to set some money aside to help enact this change over the coming months and years.”
As per the state law, all changes must be completed by the end of the 2024-2025 school year. However, Decker said they’re ready.
“Now that we know better, we’re going to do better and make this shift in alignment with state regulations,” he expressed. “Also because we now know it’s the right thing to do.”
Confident Indian River will find strength in a new mascot.