Bye, Bye Feather. Hello, Big Red Cat
New Jamestown High School Mascot Approved
Jamestown Public Schools will now have a new mascot and imagery for sports teams and more.
During Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution to change the mascot for the district.
The new mascot is based in JHS history as the first mascot appeared in 1948 as a red, big cat. The Jamestown Board of Education voted to keep the name, “Red Raiders,” at their July 2021 meeting.
The new mascot was suggested by the Jamestown High School Mascot Committee to the Jamestown Public Schools Board of Education at the December 2021 meeting. The board discussed the proposed mascot at their January 18 meeting.
Board President Paul Abbott said he was glad to see the change approved.
“I am very excited this has gone through,” Abbott said.
“This is something that kind of started in 2014 when we decided to make the decision to finally remove all the native imagery and when we did that, we knew that someday we would look to do something new for a mascot. Honestly, just from a student standpoint, I’m excited for our students that we have a new mascot to rally behind and continue on as the Red Raiders just as we always have.”
Ben Drake, JPS athletics director, chaired the Mascot Committee that brought the big cat proposal to the board. Drake said the new mascot pays homage to the history of Jamestown High School athletics.
“Our JHS student-athletes liked the idea of an ‘old school, plain big cat’ to ‘new school, modern big cat’ and felt that educating our student body on the history of the mascot was important as most students aren’t aware of it,” said JPS Athletic Director and Mascot Committee Chair, Ben Drake. “We also wanted to ensure that the new mascot highlights the long and proud athletic tradition of JHS that dates back to the early 1900s. By using the “big cat,” we are helping to pay tribute to all the athletic teams that came before us.”
Superintendent Kevin Whitaker said the adoption of the new mascot has been a process of almost two years.
“What was important is that we had heard from the Seneca Nation and they had asked us to reconsider the imagery that we had been using. What we did was we assembled a team that was made up of community members, parents, students, coaches and teachers and we asked them to engage in a process whereby they learned about the Seneca Nation. (The Seneca Nation was) very open and accepting and invited us to come see their museum and cultural center, and provided us with guided tours, which were very helpful. Across those conversations, the members of the committee said that it was time to make a change and to move away from something that we had associated with the Native American group a number of years ago. We went into this direction after many conversations and much imagery that we reviewed.”
In 2020, Whitaker requested that the JHS Mascot Committee reconvene to address concerns regarding the feathers on the “J” as it was considered Native American imagery.