By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer
Northborough-Southborough – The Regional School Committee (RSC) decided at its Oct. 21 meeting to move forward with implementing a study group to review the Algonquin Regional High School (ARHS) mascot, the “Tomahawk,” in response to a petition received in the spring. The petition’s focus of concern was on the symbol, which looks like a weapon, and may have negative connotations for indigenous people.
The 14 member group will be chaired by Principal Sean Bevan and will include RSC members Sean O’Shea and Paul Desmond, the athletic director, five members from the Coalition for Equity working group, one faculty member, one PTO member, one Booster Club member, one ARHS student athlete and one ARHS student government or member of the school newspaper, the Harbinger.
This is a topic that has been discussed and researched in depth in the past. RSC member Dan Kolenda encouraged that the study group makes decisions based on fact and truth and doesn’t want ignorance to lead an emotional discussion.
“People should actually take a look at the research that was done,” he said. “I hope that everything that was done before that analyzed how the name of the school and the mascot came into being is brought to the attention of this group as well so that they have actual facts to go on…which to my understanding was completely out of respect and had nothing to do with racism of any kind.”
Superintendent Greg Martineau said a lot of research has been compiled and a timeline with resources will be shared with the study group as well as the Committee.
RSC member Sean O’Shea said it is also important to see “not just how it was discussed at the time, but how it is practiced now and where do we want it to go in the future.”
Also an important part of the discussions will be on not losing an important part of history.
The short term study group will start meeting and present their recommendations, timeline of implementation, and costs associated with the implementation at a spring meeting.