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Canton’s mascot review committee will have at least 17 members – The Collinsville Press
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Canton’s mascot review committee will have at least 17 members

The Lawless Invitational, the first regular season wrestling tournament held in Canton since 1973, drew a crowd last January in the Canton High gymnasium.

CANTON, August 25, 2020 – Three residents were named to the Canton Board of Education’s mascot review committee on Tuesday night with additional members to be announced later.

Two Canton High student athletes, two Canton High students, two coaches and three teachers will be named to the committee, Canton Superintendent Kevin Case said. Case declined to share these names at the Board of Education meeting broadcast on Zoom.

The committee, which will review Canton High’s athletic mascot – the Warriors, currently has 17 members and hopes to have their first meeting in September. Case said he is currently looking to add one or two interested Canton High parents to the committee.

The committee will be required to develop recommendations regarding the mascot to share with the Board of Education at their October 27 meeting.

Case said that Amy Orschel, president of the Canton Athletic Booster Club, and Randy Miller, a Booster Club member, will be on the committee along with resident Michael Rossley.

Kim Church, the Canton High athletic director, and Nicholas Algizakis, a Republican from the Board of Education, who will be the co-chairs of the committee. Other committee members will include Case, BOE Democrat Erika Hayes, and Canton High principal Andrew DiPippio.

A number of Connecticut schools are re-examining their mascots and Native American imagery used with those mascots. Canton’s mascot has been the Warriors for the last 70 years and Native American imagery has been prominent at times.

In 1988, a dancing warrior with an axe in one hand a full ceremonial head dress was painted at center court of the school gymnasium. The dancing warrior was once painted on the walls of the gymnasium and was on athletic awards given to students.

The mascot was last reviewed in 2006 when a committee was formed to examine the mascot and research its history. The committee recommended that a revised Native American symbol be used in order to “preserve and maintain the dignity of Native Americans” according to Board of Education minutes in 2006.

In 2006, a different version of a warrior dancing with no axe and a different ceremonial head dress was painted at center court in the gymnasium.

Basketball action during the 2013 season at Canton High.

In the last 10 years or so, Canton has been quietly phasing out the use of Native American imagery and replacing imagery of an Indian warrior with the block letter C.

When the gym floor was refurbished after the 2013-14 school year, the warrior was replaced by a big letter C at center court. It is similar to what was on the gym floor from 1970 – when the building opened — through 1988, according to photos in school yearbooks.

The only visible Native American imagery remaining is two feathers off the back of the block letter C on a large black cover in the gymnasium that covers a climbing wall and on some Canton High athletic uniforms.

The dancing warrior logo that was at center court in the gym from 1988 through 2005, according to previous Canton High yearbooks.

On Friday, Glastonbury High’s Board of Education voted 7-1 to change their mascot, which was Tomhawks. In June, Guilford High said they would stop using the Indian nickname and mascot. In March, RHAM, a regional high school in Hebron, voted to change their mascot from Sachems to Raptors.

Farmington High (Indians) and Newington High (Indians) are also reviewing their choice of mascots and use of Native American imagery.

Killingly High changed their nickname to Red Hawks last summer but in February, a newly-elected Board of Education voted to go back to the legacy nickname of Redmen, which many people consider a racist slur.

In 2019, Manchester High changed their nickname from Indians to Red Hawks. Northwest Catholic in West Hartford changed their nickname from Indians to Lions in 2015.

West Hartford’s Hall High is still the Warriors but the school has abandoned any use of Native American imagery in 2015. West Hartford’s Conard High, whose nickname is the Chieftains, has also stopped all use of Native American imagery in 2015.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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