In a unanimous decision, the seven board members of the Manhattan-Ogden school board voted to not make a final decision regarding the retirement of the high school’s Indian mascot, opting instead to establish a committee to explore issues related to the mascot throughout 2017.
The Indian name and image will remain until the factors of the committee are completed, and if the board chooses to revisit the issue.
The board voted to create a committee in January 2017 comprised of, but not limited to, students, teachers and administrators. From January until September, the committee is to work on at least four pre-set topics pertaining to the high school and its current symbol and mascot.
Firstly, the committee will work to partially or completely fund a facility named after former coach Frank Prentup, as well as a scholarship.
Secondly, they will develop a teaching program that educates the students, faculty and community about Native American history, religion and culture.
Thirdly, the committee will explore the creation of a mascot for Manhattan High School students which will be distinct from the Indian name and image.
Finally, they will work to establish what the true cost would be and what the timeline would look like if the Indian name and image were to be retired.
Various members of the Manhattan community gathered to watch the hour and a half long board decision. Although there was not a definite final decision on the school’s mascot, citizens who went into the meeting with different standpoints on the issue had their own ideas about the committee.
Kerri Keller, the parent of a junior at the high school and executive director of the Career Center, supported the efforts to reimage the mascot but is glad there are still opportunities to make change.
“I appreciate that the board wants to create solutions that potentially could bring our community together,” Keller said. “I think it’s gonna be a very difficult process moving forward, but I guess ReImage is committed to continuing to make progress, so we’ll keep working with it.”
Tim Stadel, a resident of Westmoreland, Kansas, has had his own experiences with mascot change and was pleased that the Indian will remain the official mascot and symbol of Manhattan High School.
“I was actually never a student at this school, but the mascot that I had as a high school student was done away with,” Stadel said. “It doesn’t exist anymore, so as an alumni, I don’t really have a place there. So, I’ve always been for the mascot remaining, and I see it as more of an honor.”
The board meeting took place on Wednesday at 6:30 at the Robinson Education Center and was broadcast live on Cox cable channel 20.