Mascot Committee to Deliver Board Report Monday

By Halie Barger

The committee considering changes to Talawanda High School’s mascot is expected to present its recommendations to the board of education on Monday.

From those recommendations, the board will decide how to proceed. Holli Morrish, Talawanda’s director of communications, said the branding committee will present two options to the board.

“One of the options includes no change, and I would say that the other option is a compromise, but still a change,” Morrish said.

Committee member Lois Vollmer said the committee will take the opportunity to present both reports to the board.

“One will be the majority report, and one will be a minority report,” she said.

Although the committee will be presenting these recommendations, no final decision is expected to be made on Monday, Vollmer said.

“People do not need to expect the board to make a decision. They could, but that’s not usually how it works,” Vollmer said.

The branding committee, including residents and employees of the district, was created by Talawanda Supt. Ed Theroux after some members of the community requested the district to change the Braves mascot, because they felt it insensitive and disrespectful to Native American heritage and culture. A letter to that effect was sent to the board by the Native American Rights Fund, a national group that supports Native American interests.

“I believe (the committee) worked very hard to understand the issue, be open-minded, and work together collaboratively to get to the point where the two reports were written,” Theroux said Friday.

Theroux declined to identify the majority opinion of the committee before it is presented to the school board, but he did say that with an issue such as this, it will be difficult to please everyone.

“I believe that there [will] be individuals that will not be happy no matter what the decision is, but I believe that the majority of the people will be happy when they hear the information that is presented,” Theroux said. 

Many members of the community came forward to express their concern with changing and not changing the mascot at the school board meeting on Oct. 15. Jody Asher, a community member, said Talawanda is honoring Native Americans with the Braves mascot.

“The Brave is an honored and respected warrior,” Asher said at that meeting.

Along with people coming forward to express their views about changing the mascot, there has been a Facebook campaign to “Save the Brave.”

Megan Kuykendoll, another Talawanda community member, felt differently.

“It is not to the person doing harm to decide whether or not their actions are harmful,” Kuykendoll said.

The committee met every other week to discuss the changes, or lack thereof, that they would like to see with the mascot.

The board will meet at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Talawanda Performing Arts Center. Morrish said the committee is expected to present the recommendations during the presentation section at the beginning of the meeting.