Every morning Highland Elementary School principal Mark Pugh begins his announcements with an unfamiliar phrase: “Good morning Highland Cardinals!”
Until recently, Highland’s mascot was not the red, winged bird. Highland was home to the Indians. But now the school has taken a different symbol, abandoning a mascot and logo that elsewhere has drawn fire from major universities to Major League Baseball.
Highland Elementary School in Sylvania has changed its nickname from the Indians to the Cardinals.
The school hopes the new mascot rejuvenates and enhances school spirit, Mr. Pugh said. He added there wasn't any public objection to the former mascot but acknowledged that the change fits into the cultural competency goals of the district.
“Within an increasingly diverse community, the idea of an Indian as our mascot did not seem to match with our ideals or traditions,” he wrote in a letter to Highland parents.
Mr. Pugh said the school’s staff surveyed other Sylvania schools and noticed that most other buildings had an animal mascot. They thought it would be best to follow suit.
“The lack of student investment in our mascot as well as the fact that thematically we were not consistent with the rest of our elementary schools resulted in an initiative to reclaim the Highland mascot,” he said.
The school outsourced the design of the new cardinal mascot to the Northview High School art department, where two students, Jacqueline Weaner and Logan Tiell, created two designs for the school.
Mr. Pugh said there has been a warm reception to the new mascot, including some enthusiastic fist bumps from students.
“This has been an exciting time,” he said. “It’s been a collaborative effort and we’re thrilled we got Sylvania students to get behind it.”
Last year, discussions about Bowsher High School changing its mascot from a Confederate soldier — the Bowsher Rebels — intensified after the Aug. 12 white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.
Toledo Public Schools will use block lettering — and no Rebel image — on the new turf football field currently being installed at Bowsher, Jim Gant, the district’s leader of organizational staff and business operations, said in a written statement to The Blade. Block lettering will also be used on the new turf football field at Start High School.
But any decisions about changing school mascots are held within the appropriate school board committees.
To date there haven’t been any further discussions or decisions on making any changes to the mascot, TPS officials said.
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