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Move To Change Mahopac HS Mascot Called For As Nearby John Jay-Cross River Picks From Two Names

John Jay is looking for suggestions on its new mascot.
John Jay is looking for suggestions on its new mascot. Photo Credit: Katonah-Lewsboro School District

What’s it going to be?

What Do You Prefer?
Final Results Voting Closed

What Do You Prefer?

  • John Jay Wolfpack
  • John Jay Ravens
  • John Jay Indians

After agreeing to change the name of its mascot away from the John Jay “Indians,” the Katonah-Lewisboro School District is now holding a one-day vote to determine its replacement.

The move to replace the Indian mascot at John Jay High School in Cross River has also spurred calls for changes at the nearby Mahopac School District, where Mahopac High School also has the Indians' nickname.

The two finalists for new nickname at John Jay HS are:

The John Jay Wolfpack or the John Jay Ravens.

According to the district, the eligible voters consist of rising sixth graders to current seniors, along with faculty, staff and coaches working at the Middle/High School campus.

In November last year, under the suggestion of Superintendent Andrew Selesnick, the Katonah-Lewisboro Board of Education reached a consensus to replace the mascot, noting that some in the community may find it offensive.

The Board agreed that the mascot is dated and potentially not politically correct. However, some in the community rallied around the longtime mascot, and were reluctant to look into the idea of a new one.

“For some in our community, this change will be a relief and perhaps cause to celebrate. For others, it will be painful,” the superintendent said at the time. “As I have in the past, I ask all to be understanding and respectful of differing points of view. 

"And I’ll make a request that’s not much in keeping with our times. Let’s temper our reactions, out of respect for those whose feelings and opinions are at odds with our own.” 

A link to vote for the new mascot can be found here.

In a letter to the community, Mahopac Schools Superintendent Anthony DiCarlo said that after discussions, he and the Board said the district will maintain the mascot, though advocates have vowed to form a new coalition that could potentially file a lawsuit demanding it be replaced.

"The Board appreciates the outreach, research, and advocacy that Mr. (Daniel) Ehrenpreis has conducted with regard to the issue of the district's mascot," DiCarlo wrote.

"The District met with Mr. Ehrenpreis (via skype) in December 2019, listened to his concerns, and considered the facts and argument that he (and his colleagues) had advanced regarding their desire to change the mascot.

DiCarlo continued: "The District then conducted its own historical investigation into the origins of the mascot.

"The first inhabitants of the land that is today Mahopac were members of the Algonquin people," he said. "In addition, the District had previously been advised by the town historian that descendants of the Algonquin people in fact appreciated and took great pride in the district using the nickname and did not want the district to abandon its use."

According to the National Congress of American Indians, “the intolerance and harm promoted by these ‘Indian’ sports mascots, logos, or symbols, have very real consequences for Native people.

“Specifically, rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.”

Since 1963, no professional teams have established new mascots that use racial stereotypes in their names and imagery. In 2005, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) established an extensive policy to remove “Indian” mascots.

As a result, two-thirds, or more than 2,000 “Indian” references in sports have been eliminated in the past four decades, though nearly 1,000 still remain.

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