Havre de Grace High to name panel to decide fate of mascot

September 07, 2001|By Lane Harvey Brown | Lane Harvey Brown,SUN STAFF

The principal of Havre de Grace High School said yesterday that he will appoint a 12-member panel to decide whether to keep the school's Warrior mascot.

"My role is to make sure we have a fair process that goes on here," said Principal Stephen R. Williams, noting he plans to name the panel in the next week to hear from the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, receive public comment and vote on whether to retain or remove the Warrior mascot.

"There's a lot of passion in this community for keeping its Warrior. I'm aware of that," he said. "We want everyone to have a voice, however."

Richard Regan, a member of the Commission on Indian Affairs, which seeks the removal of Indian-named mascots and sports teams from Maryland public schools, said Harford County deserves an "A-plus" for its handling of the issue so far. "I'm pretty pleased with how they've discussed the issue with honesty, tact and courage."

Williams said his panel would probably include the high school's three class presidents, its student government president, faculty members and clergy and community leaders.

"My vision is perhaps the panel would have four meetings," he said, starting in early October and ending around Thanksgiving.

"That keeps everyone fresh," Williams said, adding that he's been "bombarded" by calls from the community.

Since the state Board of Education adopted a resolution from the Commission on Indian Affairs in July to stop the use of Native American mascots in public schools, the issue has sparked debate, especially in Montgomery County, where the county board of education ordered a high school, Poolesville, to remove its Indian mascot - despite a community vote to keep it.

Williams was contacted in August by Harford Schools Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas, who said the issue would be best handled at the community level.

"Selection of a mascot and school colors has always been a local school decision," she said.

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