Students return to the Skowhegan Area High School next week, but when they return to the campus, they won’t be greeted by the familiar mascot that has mired the community in controversy and pitted neighbor against neighbor.
The Waterville Morning Sentinel reports that the mural of a Native American spearfishing on the gym wall has been removed as well as the “Home of the Indians” sign at the end of the school’s driveway at Norridgewock Road.
No replacement for the mascot has been chosen, and the School Administrative District 54 school board will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Skowhegan Area Middle School to get input from the community, the newspaper reports.
“To move on, we need a fresh start,” School Board Member Derek Ellis, who represents Skowhegan, told the Sentinel.
SAD 54 includes Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Smithfield.
The School Board voted in March to retire the mascot and name, bringing to an end a years-long fight over the district’s use of Native American imagery. That spurred an effort by locals to reverse the decision, while others in Skowhegan have decided to still acknowledge the name and image that was for so long associated with athletics in the Somerset County town.
David Folsom of Folsom & Sons Auto told the newspaper that he plans to keep a “We are the Skowhegan Indians now and forever” sign hanging above his business.
But a return to the old mascot is unlikely, as Gov. Janet Mills in May signed into law a bill that banned the use of Native American mascots in public schools, making Maine the first state to adopt such a ban.
The Sentinel reports that the cost for changing the mascot is between $20,000 and $25,000.