Board of Education votes to remove Farmington Indian mascot

Rachel Wolkoff, Staff Writer

Initially built in 1928, the high school adopted the Indians as their school mascot with the thought that it would pay homage to Farmington’s history, specifically the Tunxis Indians. Recent social justice protests throughout the country have sparked new discussions regarding the Indian mascot and whether or not it represents the values and beliefs of the district. At the last Board of Education (BOE) meeting, the vote was made to remove the mascot.

Initially, the Ad Hoc Committee made the recommendation to remove the mascot before it went to a BOE vote. This committee was created at the end of the last school year after students voiced their feelings towards the current mascot.

The task of this committee was to first educate themselves on the topic and secondly create an informed recommendation for the Board regarding the appropriateness of the mascot. The committee was comprised of teachers, administrators, students from the school, parents, and experts in the fields of race, culture, and the use of Native American mascots throughout the community.

The particular outline and process were set up to create dialogue and educate the masses. Members were asked to consider two main criteria: the first being what is the educational impact of the current mascot on students and how it compares to the Vision of a Global Citizen. The committee was also asked to consider what kind of school community Farmington strives to be specifically regarding race and culture. Through several virtual meetings from September through mid-November, committee members used this gained insight to further inform the BOE on the impact the current Farmington mascot has on the community. Sophomore Luke Watson said that being a member of the committee allowed him to grow and become more empathetic.

“Being on the committee, I have grown to understand how things such as a mascot may seem little to me, but actually has a large impact on other minority groups. Coming from a privileged, white male’s perspective, it’s important to understand this, and it helped me become a better person,” Watson said.

As of November 17, the committee collectively came to the conclusion that the mascot should be changed as it does not positively impact the greater community and therefore does not meet the criteria in question, later notifying the public after their last meeting.

The Board reviewed the committee’s formal recommendation on Monday, December 7. As of Tuesday, December 8, the BOE announced that, like the committee’s recommendation, they voted in the removal of the Indian mascot due to the negative educational impact on Farmington students. The next step for the committee is to meet once again with the intention of selecting a new mascot that will fulfill the high school’s needs and bring the community closer together.

As a member of the committee, Principal Scott Hurwitz helped facilitate and organize the communication and logistics of the group while also serving as a listener to the perspectives and thoughts throughout the process. Hurwitz hopes to elevate student involvement and make this situation something that brings everyone closer together and proud to be a part of the Farmington community.

“To be able to facilitate a conversation in which we actually listen to each other, speak to each other respectfully, and respect different perspectives. I think that is one of our greatest opportunities as an educational institution as both teachers and learners. That is something so critical to our success now and in the future. The part I’m most proud of on the committee is that that all occurred in real life among the members of the committee,” Hurwitz said.

More information and a complete committee member list can be found on the committee’s website. The Ad Hoc Committee set up a Google form on the homepage of their website to address any concerns, questions, or feedback.