By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
NORTHBOROUGH/SOUTHBOROUGH – Algonquin Regional High School is one step closer to picking a new mascot.
The Mascot Renaming Study Group recently narrowed the list of potential new mascots for the high school to nine — Eagles, Falcons, Golden Eagles, Navigators, Nor-Easters, Owls, Thunder, Titans and Trailblazers.
In an update to community members, Superintendent of Operations Keith Lavoie wrote that the group vetted twenty-three options and determined that these nine met their criteria.
The Regional School Committee voted to retire the ARHS mascot, the “Tomahawk,” back in May.
A survey was later sent out to community members asking, in part, what should replace the mascot.
A data analysis breaking down the results indicated that the top suggested option was to keep the Tomahawk. “Thunderhawk” came in second.
Later, in September, the group received input from Native American leaders on whether Thunderhawks avoids cultural appropriation as specified in the group’s criteria for a new mascot.
The group came to the consensus that the Thunderhawks, in fact, didn’t meet the criteria, and it was removed from consideration.
“Thunder Hawk is the name of not one but two significant Native leaders,” said Nipmuc Nation spokesperson Brittney Walley in response to the school. “This would be the same as renaming the mascot with any Native leader, and would clearly be a continued use of Native imagery. In fact, usage of the term can lead to conflating more parts of Native history.”
Before the group meets next, Lavoie said they would work to get feedback from Native American leaders about these remaining options. Additionally, the committee will work with a branding consultant to “identify the brand attributes of each [mascot].”
“The next steps are to vet this list with greater detail and ensure each mascot meets all criteria in addition to any copyright infringements,” Lavoie said.