Over the past two years community sentiment about putting an Indian image back up in the gym remained strong at John Burroughs High School. Recently, Burroughs Principal John Paramo reached out to the current school community including teachers, counselors, students, and classified staff to join a group to decide if the mascot should be resurrected.
Paramo first emailed the teachers in August to invite “everyone” to be a part of the discussion. He got responses from nine teachers. In order to create a group which represented all stakeholders equally, he then reached out to the classified staff asking for nine volunteers to join the committee. Lastly, the Associated Student Body’s five Executive Cabinet members and four class presidents made up the nine students. The group was comprised of twenty-seven members of the JBHS community. The Administration’s role in the process was minimal with Paramo facilitating the discussions and Vice Principal Matt Chambers simply observing meetings.
The group met two times in the fall to have an open discussion about whether to put an Indian back up in the gym. Paramo made sure that all participants had the opportunity to present their thoughts, feelings, and information in a safe environment.
There was a closed ballot vote at the end of the second meeting. The results were 18 – 7 in favor of putting an Indian image back up in the gym (two participants were absent from the meeting). Every member of the group was welcomed back for the next meeting to decide what the image should look like.
Paramo led discussions about what the Indian should look like. The only parameters that he set were that the Indian could not have any weapons, war paint, or head dresses. The group gave lots of input, which was all passed on to Burroughs High School’s branding company to help them produce an image.
The group worked closely with the branding company to connect the mascot to the official school logo (The “JB” with a feather). Similar colors, designs, and concepts were used. Consideration was given to portray the Indian image with a bone-type vest. However, Paramo decided against the vest when he determined there were religious connotations. Therefore, the Indian is depicted shirtless.
While the decision to put an Indian mascot back up in the gym is controversial, the Principal ensured that there was an open process; equal opportunity to present arguments; equal participation from all stakeholders; and equal voting from each stakeholder group. The actual votes were definitive and the will of the group prevailed.