MELROSE — Over the summer, Melrose High Principal Jason Merrill announced a plan to create a new name and possible mascot for Melrose High.
Now he’s looking for ideas.
In a release announcing that suggestions of possible names and mascots for Melrose High’s sports teams and extracurricular clubs are now being accepted, high school administrators wrote, “This is just the first step in a longer process and does not mean a final decision will be made based on these results.
“We will continue to be Red & White.”
So if you have a suggestion, go to the Community Member Link: tinyurl.com/melrosemascotCM.
In a July letter to the Red and White community, Merrill said it is time to move away from the Red Raider and come up with something that is not considered the least bit offensive.
“As some of you may know, I am a proud graduate of Melrose High School. I am also a resident of Melrose and have three children in the Melrose Public Schools. As the principal of Melrose High School, I have been given one of the greatest responsibilities in this city. Not a moment goes by on any given day that I am not thinking about our school community.
“That all being said, I want to share my thoughts on something that has been weighing on my mind for some time now. I believe that it is time for Melrose High School to move away from the ‘red raider’ mascot. I want to be clear that our school community has taken admirable steps to move away from Native American imagery such as a Native American cartoon and eventually the dreamcatcher. Additionally, we know that the red raider has also been depicted as a viking, a bandit, and even has ties to a WWII fighter squadron. But, I simply cannot deny the connection between the red raider or raider and offensive Native American imagery.
“I understand that this will be hard for some of our school community to hear and that some may disagree with me. This decision is not based on other people’s thinking or agendas. I am making this decision because 5 years ago I signed a contract to take responsibility for what I consider the most important building and people in our city, and I think that this is right for our school. In 2016, I said that our #1 goal will be to create and sustain a welcome environment based on kindness and respect. That remains our #1 goal and it will be as long as I am here.
“We teach students to treat each other well. We talk about who came before them at MHS and what they stood for. We talk about hard work, teamwork, communication, and how to solve problems and persevere. But, most importantly, it always comes back to how you treat people.
“My objective will be to roll out a collaborative plan that includes our students and community in a process to phase out the red raider and identify a new mascot during the upcoming school year.
“We are Melrose. We wear red and white, and we always will,” his letter concluded.
Merrill’s move is in line with what has been happening around the state and the country. Among Middlesex League communities alone, Winchester got rid of the name Sachem, Watertown eliminated the word “Red” and Wakefield’s School Committee said no to the Warrior’s Native American imagery. In the latter case, a non-binding referendum question saw a substantial majority of voters still in favor of keeping some form of the imagery and Warrior name.
A state bill would eliminate all Native American names and images throughout the Commonwealth.