MELROSE — With some tempers still running hot over last month’s School Committee decision to change the name of Melrose High sports teams and clubs from Red Raiders to Red Hawks, a move was made this week to try to cool things down.
The School Committee narrowly voted Tuesday to discuss a possible recision of the new Melrose High moniker at its meeting on June 14. The original motion to rescind Red Hawk was made by Jennifer Razi-Thomas but it was eventually decided to wait until the board’s next meeting to bring the debate up again. The name change has been discussed in one form or another since last summer.
Red Raider name supporters were aided by the School Committee’s April 12 vote to go with Red Hawk. The entire issue centers on the negative native American connotation of Red Raider. Red Hawk has fared no better, although the intention was to name the Melrose clubs and teams after a bird.
Razi-Thomas said this week that she wants to make the process of change less painful for those who want to stay Red Raiders. She said the city’s flagship school should have a mascot that is more palatable. “It is in everyone’s best interest,” she said, “not to get caught up in culture wars.”
Colleague Lizbeth DeSelm explained that often the hardest thing to do is to move forward and at some point the community and the School Committee too will “have to accept what this body has chosen.”
When the members voted last month, the School Committee to a person felt it was time for a name change, since the Red Raider at times in the past has been associated with indigenous people and carried, in their minds and those of others, a negative connotation. This ran counter to how many people sitting in the meeting audience felt.
When it came time for the School Committee to actually vote on April 12, the decision was broken into four parts. Members unanimously approved keeping the block M as the Melrose High logo. The entire School Committee backed the discontinuation of the Red Raider name. The new name vote took a little longer, with Margaret Driscoll saying she didn’t think replacing the Red Raider with Red Hawk was the “right move.” She also said by maintaining the block M logo, Red and White made more sense as a moniker.
The fourth part of the vote involved rebranding and discussing costs associated with changing the name of Melrose High’s teams and clubs.
Now the debate starts up again.