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JPS BOE To Hold Vote On Possible Mascot Change

Pictured are members of the Jamestown Public School District Board of Education at Tuesday night’s meeting. President Paul Abbott announced a vote on the proposed mascot change will be held at the next board meeting. P-J photo by Katrina Fuller

A change in mascot for Jamestown High School is one step closer to reality.

At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, Board President Paul Abbott announced an upcoming vote on the matter.

“I wanted to let the board know it is my intention to have a resolution on the agenda for our next meeting to vote on accepting the mascot that was presented to us,” said Abbott.

In a recent presentation, the board heard a presentation regarding the mascot change that suggested a return to Jamestown High School’s original mascot, a big red cat. This mascot first appeared in 1948. In July of 2021, the board voted to keep the “Red Raiders” name but had previously transitioned from the Red Raider mascot to a capital “J” with feathers.

Board Member Joseph Pawelski said he was a member of the committee that brought the mascot suggestion to the board. He said the committee included a large cross-section of the community including teachers, coaches and others.

“COVID didn’t help the situation — it slowed us down tremendously,” Pawelski said. “It was about a two or two and a half year process that we went through narrowing things down to get to a point where we could present a mascot that encompassed what we thought Jamestown represented. We went way back – that was the original mascot.”

Board Vice President Patrick Slagle said he appreciated the committee’s work on the project.

“It’s been a long process that I think started back in 2014 back when they originally decided they were going to do away with that,” Slagle said. “I really liked this recommendation and the thing I liked most was that it has a place in our history. We weren’t trying to come up with some logo that may or may not be offensive to people – we weren’t trying to force something.”

Slagle said the mascot is unique and allows for conversations to occur surrounding the history behind the mascot.

Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels told The Post-Journal that he “applauds” the decision to change.

“The call for change and respect should be heard by more communities, institutions and organizations where, for far too long, the use of names and imagery offensive to Native Americans and Native communities has been commonplace,” Pagels said. “I applaud our neighbors in Jamestown for not only promoting this long-overdue change, but also embracing it as an opportunity to educate students on the history of why it is the right decision to make. I hope the district’s leaders will follow through with this change and begin a new chapter that others could look to as an example to follow.”

The next Jamestown Public Schools District Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. at Ring Elementary School. For more information on the mascot proposal, visit https://www.jpsny.org/domain/5243.

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