Some Red Lodge residents have become divided over the thorny issue of changing the high school's mascot, the Redskins, to something less racially charged.
The School Board will take up the issue next week during its Wednesday meeting.
“Typically, once a year or every other year, we get a little bit of push” to change it, Superintendent Mark Brajcich said.
This year, the effort seemed to gain some momentum, so the board decided it would take on the issue once and for all, he said.
The controversy over changing the mascot has been brewing for years, Brajcich said.
“There's definitely heightened emotion on both sides,” he said.
In fact, there's been talk around town that mascot supporters might dress up as Indians for Saturday's boys basketball game in Red Lodge High's new gymnasium.
That caused concern with some parents because the game is against Hardin High, a predominately American Indian school on the edge of the Crow Indian Reservation.
Brajcich said he can understand the high emotions. Many of those opposed to the change are graduated athletes.
“They've competed as Redskins,” he said. “They don't want to see it changed.”
Other school alumni seem less invested in the issue.
“I don't really have an opinion,” said Vince Hudak, who graduated from the high school in 1982. “I wouldn't care. It wouldn't bother me at all” if it changed.
Waylon Boggio, who graduated in 1995 agreed. If officials keep the mascot or change it, he doesn't care.
“I have no hard feelings about it,” he said.
Current students at the school have varied opinions, said Rex Ternan, principal of Red Lodge High. Some want to see it changed, others want it to stay, and some don't care one way or the other, he said.
What's important is that the school adopt a mascot that everyone can celebrate and be proud of, he said.
No formal list of replacement mascots has been drawn up. That won't happen until the board makes a decision on what to do with the current mascot, Brajcich said.
Dan Roat, who graduated in 1988 and now lives in Grass Range, said after learning about the controversy that he believes the school should probably keep its mascot.
“They should leave it the Redskins,” he said.
But, he said, “times do change and people have to change with them.”
Contact Rob Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 657-1231.