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March 14, 2013

'Redskins' soon to be retired

No alternative name chosen

The Cooperstown Board of Education, with one “no” vote, has decided to retire the district’s nickname, “Redskins,” effective June 30. However, it has yet to come up with a replacement. 

Board President David Borgstrom said a timetable for making a decision has not been set.

“We will continue to review all nicknames,” he said.

The vote came after a recommendation to the board by its Public Relations Committee to retire the nickname as it pertains to interscholastic athletic, extracurricular and academic programs.   

Jean Schifano, chairwoman of the committee, said there has been discussion about steering away from the name Hawkeyes because of trademark issues. Students may be called upon to take another survey, she said. It would not be a vote, Schifano clarified. 

According to Schifano, the committee also talked about making sure the new nickname would be geographically and historically relevant as well as represent the school in a positive way. 

Borgstrom said the goal is to narrow suggested nicknames down to three to five options that would represent the school “appropriately” and have a public forum with students and any interested community members and move forward from that. 

“I think we need to take whatever time necessary to prepare for deliberation to make sure any options that would come forward would be appropriate to the best we can consider in both the short term and the long term with any potential ramifications of any human being,” he said.

Superintendent C.J. Hebert said a target date for that forum, to be held at the middle/high school is April 10. 

According to school officials, the name “Redskins” dates to the mid-1920s. The district plans to keep its colors of orange and black along its emblem based on “The Indian Hunter,” the statue in Lakefront Park.

The Public Relations Committee collected data to see what the costs of a change would be, according to Schifano. She said: “We wanted to make sure there would be no costs to taxpayers.” 

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