Gar-Field High School in Prince William County, Virginia, will no longer use “Indians” as its mascot starting in the 2021-2022 school year.
Principal Matthew Mathison said in a statement that the school will pick a new mascot that “fully reflects our values of inclusiveness, respect and being champions for others.”
After saying that the Indians name was part of the school’s identity since it began in 1953 and that the school’s intent “has never been to disrespect or disparage Native Americans or their cultures,” he added that the choice to change the name was in response to concerns from students, staff, alumni and the community.
“I am proud that it has been our students who are demonstrating their commitment to Gar-Field by taking leadership on this matter,” Mathison said, pointing out that the student government began the process.
The first step toward a new mascot is community input, Mathison said. Students and staff can submit suggestions online, while alumni and members of the community can submit responses on a similar page. The deadline is April 4.
From there, a selection committee comprising students, staff, alumni, parents and community members will pick the finalists. The school will make a final decision in consultation with all stakeholders, Mathison said.
He added that the county school system will cover the expenses associated with the name change.