Killingly Honor Society: ‘We refuse to stand by the Redmen mascot’
The Killingly High School National Honor Society would like to express its extreme disappointment in the Killingly Board of Education’s decision on the mascot during its meeting on Jan. 8. This school year has been a challenging time for working toward uniting our school community once again after the division that the initial decision brought. After months of healing, we finally felt that our school had come together under the Red Hawk name. Students embraced the mascot, and realized it was an issue beyond political party lines.
The Native American tribes of our area had made their positions clear, expressing that the “Redmen” name is not an honor to them, but rather severely degrades the self-esteem of Native American youth and undermines the dignity with which they should be treated. At Killingly High School, our United States history curriculum covers the suffering and mass genocide of the Native Americans throughout our nation’s history. They fought for the respect of their tribes in the past, and unfortunately, we are forcing them to continue to fight for respect hundreds of years later.
The National Honor Society has four main pillars by which we stand: scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Our chapter is made up of leaders who represent many programs in our school. We all share a commitment to our academic pursuits, the development of our leadership skills, serving our community, and maintaining character and integrity no matter the situation.
As leaders within our school, we refuse to stand by the “Redmen” mascot. We know it only serves to further divide our community, and reinforce the stereotypes that the world works every day to eliminate. We stand by our belief and character, that every individual deserves respect, acknowledgement and understanding.
The school board has not followed this belief in its decision and has ignored the words of those impacted by the mascot the most: the Native Americans and the students. Within our sports teams, clubs, academics, and through our community service, we will honor the Native Americans of our area in the way they desire. Whenever given the option, we will maintain pride within our community behind the Killingly name only by way of our uniforms, logos, and in our cheers.
The students of Killingly High School will not stand behind the racist and disrespectful Redmen mascot.
Alexandra Purcell is the president of the Killingly High National Honor Society. This open letter to the school board was also signed by Vice President Christopher Pawul, Treasurer Soudalath Souvanhnaphan, Secretary Kelley Cerbo, and 31 members of the honor society.