THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
ALBANY, NY 12234
President of the University and
Commissioner of Education
April 5, 2001
TO: Presidents of Boards of Education and Superintendents of Public Schools
FROM: Richard P. Mills
SUBJECT: Public School Use of Native American Names, Symbols, and Mascots
Some time ago, I directed Department staff to study the use of Native American
mascots by public schools. I would like to share with you the results of that
What I conclude:
Our review confirmed that the use of Native American symbols is part of
time-honored traditions in some of our communities, and that there are deeply
felt, albeit conflicting, ideas about them. Some members of these communities
believe that the mascots honor or pay tribute to Native Americans and their
culture. However, most Native Americans appear to find the portrayal by others
of their treasured cultural and religious symbols disparaging and disrespectful.
Many others who have looked at this issue concur.
After careful thought and consideration, I have concluded that the use of Native
American symbols or depictions as mascots can become a barrier to building a
safe and nurturing school community and improving academic achievement for all
students. I ask the superintendents and presidents of school boards to lead
their communities to a new understanding of this matter. I ask boards to end the
use of Native American mascots as soon as practical. Some communities have
thought about this and are ready to act. Others already have acted and I commend
them. Yet, in others, more reflection and listening is needed, and so I ask that
these discussions begin now. I believe that local leaders can find the right way
to inquire into this matter and resolve it locally. Next year I will formally
evaluate the progress on this issue.
Here is my reasoning.
What we found:
There has already been extensive statewide discussion of this issue. Some of it
is eloquent. We sought the views of local superintendents. Many wrote directly
and many others expressed their thoughts through District Superintendents. I
have had extended conversations with a few of them. We contacted representatives
of Native American communities. We also asked the counsel of District
Superintendents. We researched the literature on this subject and read legal
documents from other states. We examined New York law, regulation, and Regents
policy. In addition, many citizens wrote to us.
The use of Native American names, symbols, and mascots is such a significant
issue that it is being looked at in other states, in professional sports, at the
collegiate level, as well as at the local level in some New York school
districts. The Society of the Indian Psychologists of Americas has raised the
concern that use of these mascots and symbols creates an "unwelcome academic
environment" for Native American students. Organizations such as the NAACP and
the NEA have issued statements calling for an end to the use of mascots. The
U.S. Census 2000 issued a resolution stating that it would not include teams
that used these symbols as part of its promotional program. Over the last 30
years, more than 600 colleges, universities and high schools have changed or
eliminated their use of Native American mascots. For example, the Los Angeles
school board required its junior high and high schools to drop Native
American-themed names and mascots, and 20 high schools in Wisconsin followed
suit. Collegiate institutions such as Miami University of Ohio, St. John’s
University, Siena College and Stanford University have changed their school
logos. In the professional sports world, objections have also arisen, and it is
clear that recent expansion teams in professional baseball, hockey, football and
basketball have avoided the use of Indian-themed names or mascots.
In 1999, the United States Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
investigated a North Carolina school district to determine if the high school’s
mascot and nicknames violated Federal Civil Rights Law by creating a racially
hostile environment. That investigation was closed after the school district’s
board of education decided to eliminate the use of Native American religious
In August 2000, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer reviewed this issue as it related
to a New York State school district. The Attorney General raised serious
concerns that certain uses of Native American mascots and symbols could violate
the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. His opinion identified many factors that
school districts should consider in examining their use of these symbols and
mascots, particularly areas such as stereotypical nicknames, images, gestures
and use of historical and religious symbols such as feather headdress,
face-paint, or totem poles.
Clearly, many of those who are thinking deeply about this issue are concerned
that the use of these symbols should end.
Schools must provide a safe and supportive environment that promotes achievement
of the standards for all children. The use of Native American mascots by some
schools can make that school environment seem less safe and supportive to some
children, and may send an inappropriate message to children about what is or is
not respectful behavior toward others. For that reason we must question the use
of such mascots. If children and parents in the school community are offended or
made to feel diminished by the school mascot, what school leader or board would
not want to know that and correct the situation? School mascots are intended to
make a statement about what the school values. School leaders and communities
may not be aware that the statement heard can be contrary to the one intended.
Here are some thoughts from a student: "Today this school promotes respect,
responsibility, compassion, honesty, and tolerance. When you use words like
these, you need to teach by example. The resigning of this mascot would be a
great example of these character education words. I would like to see my
brother, sister, and cousins go to a school that shows respect and tolerance for
other cultures. I don’t want them to feel the confusion that I have felt going
to this school. It has taken me a couple of years to come to understand Native
American stereotypes and their effects on me. By keeping [this] mascot the
principal lesson the students, staff, and community learn is how to tolerate
Some argue that such mascots honor Native Americans. Most Native American
representatives do not share that view.
Some would argue that mascots that are problematic could be made dignified
through some state review process. It is difficult to imagine how to craft
criteria to make such a judgement process feasible on a statewide basis. Most
people would recognize and deplore mocking, distorted representations of
minority group members. However, fair-minded people might view these mascots as
respectful without realizing that the representation included religious symbols
that Native American observers would find distressing when used in that manner.
Some urge keeping the status quo. That is not realistic either. Collegiate
sports and newer professional teams have recognized changing public attitudes
and decided not to use Native American mascots. The same changes that affected
them will eventually overtake schools. It would be better to resolve the matter
now. The central role of sports in this issue is advantageous. Few areas of
American life are as concerned about fairness and respect for individual value
and achievement as is the world of sport. We can turn to those values as we
think about mascots.
Some call for an immediate and statewide halt to the use of these mascots. That
approach is not advisable. People in many communities haven’t had an opportunity
to talk about this and listen to one another. There are cherished traditions
surrounding many of the mascots. There are even significant costs involved:
consider mascots on team uniforms and gymnasium floors, to cite obvious
examples. In any case, local remedies should be exhausted first. Many
communities have engaged the issue and made changes. Many other communities will
now do so.
Still others believe this is a local matter. I cannot agree that it is only a
local matter. There is a state interest in providing a safe and supportive
learning environment for every child. The use of Native American mascots
involves a state responsibility as well.
Here are some questions that might help local communities consider how to
approach the issue. I have adapted them from ideas suggested by a New York
School Superintendent and they seem like a good place to begin.
Do Native Americans and non-Native Americans perceive the mascot
Is there a significant difference between how the mascot may have been
intended and how it is interpreted?
How should an organization respond if its well-intentioned actions
unintentionally offend a member of the group’s religious or ethnic beliefs?
Are there other symbols that represent the school’s values that could be
used in place of the existing mascot?
I call upon school leaders in communities that use Native American symbols,
names, or mascots to pose these questions to their communities and lead them in
a discussion of the right path to take. It is important that our students learn
about the diversity of our communities so that they will understand and respect
our differences and draw strength from them in becoming good citizens and
productive adults. School administrators, staff, parents and community members
play a critical role in modeling behavior that celebrates and honors the
traditions and beliefs of our fellow citizens. As educators, we have an
obligation to inform communities so that they might come to understand the pain,
however unintentionally inflicted, these symbols cause.
Presentation to the Board of Education
August 16, 2001
Commissioner’s Memo Regarding Public Use of Native American Names,
Symbols and Mascots
Last April, the Commissioner sent a memo to all New York schools asking us “to
end the use of Native American mascots as soon as practical.” The Commissioner
rightly understands, as he says, that “there are deeply felt, albeit
conflicting, ideas about” the use of Native American mascots. As a result, his
memo did not technically order school districts to change. It did, however,
make a strong case as to why schools should change, and asked districts to
engage in focused, honest consideration of the issue.
Here in West Irondequoit, we have done that in a number of ways. We have
consulted with school attorneys, with other districts, with faculty, staff, with
Mr. Peter Jemison of Ganondagon, and with Mr. Don White, a member of the Seneca
Nation and the curriculum coordinator for the Seneca Nation.
As a result of these inquires, and of intensive consideration, I come before you
tonight with the recommendation that while the “Indian” logo has been a part—an
important part—of West Irondequoit’s past, it should not be a part of West
I know a change such as this cannot occur without pain for some. For many years,
students, parents, graduates, staff members and community members have
identified with our teams, with the district and with the name, “The Irondequoit
Indians.” The name and logo have been a part of a continuing connection with
our school and with one another. It is likely—and understandable—that no matter
how strongly a person accepts the reasons for changing the district’s name,
emotionally one might feel that something important has been taken away.
In West Irondequoit, the use of the “Indian” name and logo has never been
intended—and never intentionally used—to demean or diminish or marginalize
Native Americans or anyone else. It emerged, I am sure, as a natural outgrowth
of our region’s geography and history, just as many place names remain with the
land as cultures pass over it. Even elaborations of the logo, in the forms of
stereotypical images such as tomahawks or feathers, are not intended to hurt
But one of the questions the Commissioner has asked us to consider is whether
actions that have no intention to harm or offend may in fact unintentionally
inflict harm or offense. That is a question we pursued, and I’ll say more about
it in a moment.
First though, the legal dimension. School attorneys advise us that while no New
York case law or Commissioner’s decisions have determined the legality or
illegality of using “Indian” mascots or related images, legal challenges to such
use do have a basis in a number of discrimination statutes. Where districts do
not move away from such names and mascots voluntarily, it is likely that a
challenge will be mounted somewhere and—especially given the Commissioner’s
unequivocal stand—that such a challenge will succeed. The legal handwriting is
on the wall, and it is very clear.
I would ask the Board to take these legal considerations carefully into
consideration as fundamental to any decision to change our name. However, I
will now address the “respect and responsibility” underpinnings that are the
basis for the Commissioner’s direction.
Over the past 50 years or so, the social consciousness and the social conscience
of our country have steadily, though unevenly, risen. What was once regarded
simply as the way things were, such as personal and institutional racism, or the
restrictive, subordinate roles of women, are now broadly regarded as both
socially and morally wrong. I like to think of this not simply as a change, but
as a growth, a maturing of how our society in general views people and groups
and of how it behaves toward people and groups. That process continues.
Our conversations with Native Americans made it abundantly clear that “Indian”
names and logos such as ours in fact do hurt Native Americans as individuals and
demean Native Americans as a culture. Those outcomes are real, even though they
are entirely unintended. We now know of individual Native Americans—including
graduates of West Irondequoit—who felt alienated from parts of their school
experience because of the way their culture was portrayed through the West
Irondequoit logo. While they did not make it an issue at the time, this
knowledge makes it incumbent upon us to make it an issue now.
Our conversation with Mr. Don White, educational coordinator for the Seneca
Nation was particularly enlightening. Mr. White pointed out a number of ways in
which some West Irondequoit elaborations of the Indian logo and name were
offensive: They were historically inaccurate; they were stereotypical and
cartoonish and they used sacred Native American symbols in denigrating ways.
With absolutely NO intention to do so, they trivialized some things that are
sacred to some Native American people. For example, we spoke to the West
Irondequoit alumnus who had designed the Indian centerpiece for our high school
gymnasium floor in 1988. He told us how deeply he regretted having created it,
not having understood at the time how inappropriate and inaccurate it was to
depict and use a sacred Native American emblem in this manner. Upon learning
this and out of respect for this graduate’s deep feelings, I approved Mr. Fries’
request to remove that emblem immediately. I also approved, based on what we
learned, the removal of another misrepresentation painted on a cafeteria wall.
No matter what the Board of Education’s ultimate decision on this issue, these
two paintings were historically inaccurate, potentially insensitive, and were
not reflective of the lessons we hope our children learn in their schooling in
When we explored with Mr. White the question of whether West Irondequoit could
use an ”Indian” logo in ways that honored rather than demeaned Native Americans,
he sincerely tried to find ways to help us do that. For example, could the
district use the logo as a starting point for expanding cultural awareness,
promoting understanding, and dispelling stereotypes in comprehensive ways?
Could it honor rather than demean the culture from which it was taken?
The conclusion we all reached is an absolute “no.” Certainly all of these goals
should be part of our curricula and part of what the underlying culture of our
schools promotes. Indeed, textbooks and curriculum have been revised over the
past 20 or so years to provide a more accurate and honest portrayal of Native
American cultures. But a school logo cannot bear this responsibility. Attempts
to make it do so become flimsy rationalization. Like a flag, the purpose of a
logo and name is to rally support, to raise spirit, inspire allegiance, and to
define a wholesome, respectable, energized, game-winning “us.” Its purpose is
to unify students, graduates, faculty, parents and community around a common
emblem. The “Indian” logo has served those purposes for many in West
Irondequoit. But like some flags in our nation’s South, it has done so
(although unknowingly) at the expense of others. We sincerely appreciated the
manner in which Mr. White answered our questions and how sensitive he was in
helping us understand this issue.
In our conversation with Mr. Peter Jemison, of Ganondagon, he made a very strong
point when he told us that the misuse of names and symbols from Native American
culture has led to a situation where many people think they know about Native
people. In fact, our understandings may be based on stereotypical images found
in films, television, theatre, and other forms of entertainment which are very
often misleading. What we regard as our knowledge of Native Americans may be
incomplete, very inaccurate and often demeaning. We also appreciated not only
the time Mr. Jemison spent with us; we appreciated his sincere willingness to
answer our questions.
One could ask, “If the Cleveland Indians, and the Washington Redskins, and the
Atlanta Braves can keep their logos, why can’t we keep ours?” Well, I guess we
shouldn’t wait for the National League and the NFL to show us where we should
go. Perhaps we should show them, given our mission of teaching young people.
Our district’s mission statement speaks about promoting “pride in work, a sense
of self-worth, physical well-being, integrity, decency, respect and care for
others, a valuing of differences and skill in interpersonal relations”. If we
truly want to create and maintain a culture of decency and respect in our
schools, we have to model it for our children consistently.
Our district has recently adopted a Code of Conduct that is based on this same
foundation of decency, civility, sensitivity and respect toward the feelings,
values, humanity and dignity of others. We believe in these principles deeply
and sincerely, and we hope they will become deeply seated in our students’
hearts and minds as well. They are part of the bedrock of our district.
Given what we now know, retaining the “Indian” logo is fundamentally
inconsistent with these principles and with our hopes for our students. Our
bedrock no longer supports this piece of our landscape. And I want to make it
very clear that my recommendation is not about political correctness. Just like
other issues surrounding ethnicity in the history of our country, once we grow
to understand when we are being insensitive, our country has always made the
appropriate changes. While this issue involving Native Americans is central to
our traditions and identity in West Irondequoit at this moment, in the bigger
picture, it is really one of many ways we need to help our children and our
neighbors increase their sensitivity to, knowledge and awareness of, a world of
diversity. That has always been our “high road”; the same road I am
recommending this evening. This is not only a Native American issue, it’s about
basic human dignity and respect.
In recommending this change for West Irondequoit’s future, I have not intended
to demean any part of West Irondequoit’s past. I believe in fact that we should
respect and honor our past, even as we depart from it. We are not simply
changing. We are growing, and we cannot un-grow. And for those students,
graduates, faculty, parents, and community members who identify strongly with
the “Irondequoit Indians” logo they lived with and loved, and who may feel a
loss, I hope that they will come to identify even more strongly than they
already do with the principles for which the West Irondequoit School District
stands, principles which emphasize respect for the dignity and humanity of all
individuals and groups. Those principles provide the basis for my
recommendation, which, as the educational leader of the West Irondequoit
Schools, I share with you this evening. We need to respond to this issue in a
way that demonstrate we are a school district with the wisdom, courage,
leadership and vision to take a meaningful step toward a better educational
system and a better society.
I appreciate the thoughtful consideration that the Board and the public are
giving to this issue.
Democrat and Chronicle
Wednesday, October 24, 2001
Will they be the Bayhawks? The Eagles? Iron Eagles?
The ultimate decision will fall to West Irondequoit Central School District residents. Beginning Nov. 1, they may cast a ballot in support of a name to replace the Irondequoit Indians moniker, which will be retired later this year.
The district's Board of Education voted Aug. 23 to retire the Indians name and logo after a request to do so by Superintendent Glenn Wachter and pleas from members of the Native American community.
District residents already had the chance to submit name suggestions, and Irondequoit High School student council representatives, along with a committee of district administrators, athletic personnel, alumni and community members, pared those suggestions to the following five: Bayhawks, Eagles, Iron Eagles, Pride and Raptors.
Paper ballots for the vote will be available beginning Nov. 1 at all West Irondequoit schools and at the district's administration building at 270 Cooper Road.
Ballots must be returned to the Irondequoit High School student council, 260 Cooper Road, Irondequoit, NY 14617 no later than 7 p.m. Nov. 14.
Residents who do not vote by paper ballot will be able to vote in a voting booth from 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 15 in the Connorton Gym at Irondequoit High School.
The winning team name is expected to be announced Nov. 20, following verification of the ballots.
And then there were 5...
Linda Quinlan/Messenger Post Staff
October 25, 2001 School and community members will vote on the new mascot. The new mascot for the West Irondequoit school district may take wing - four of the final five choices are based on birds. Next month, students, staff, alumni and residents will vote whether they want to be either the: Bayhawks, Eagles, Iron Eagles, Pride, or Raptors. The winner will be announced on or around Nov. 20, after a vote. A district Name Selection Committee provided the following reasoning for each of the finalists: Bayhawks: Hawks are majestic and common to this area. Combined with the reference to the nearby Irondequoit Bay, the name creates a unique image of a strong bird and a powerful competitor. Eagles: When combined with "Irondequoit," this name has good word flow and reflects national pride. Eagles are strong, grand, stately, and rare, and symbolize power, fortitude, and success. Iron Eagles: In addition to the "eagle" rationale, adding "Iron" from Irondequoit creates a double meaning with an image of a regal, soaring bird with one of great strength. It also provides good alliteration with "Irondequoit." Pride: This name represents a team, a unified pack such as a group of lions, who are known for their courage and fierceness. Pride also symbolizes spirit, esteem, and worth. Raptors: The name signifies all large birds of prey which can be found at the district's Helmer Nature Center, and implies keen-sightedness, strength, and surviving against incredible odds. The district's Board of Education voted to retire the "Indians" mascot last August, because some say it can be offensive to Native Americans. Last Friday, Oct. 19, a 16-member committee of residents, parents, students, staff, administrators and alumni deliberated for more than two hours to narrow the choices down from 25. The student council chose 25 - from hundreds suggested. The committee evaluated the choices based on three "guiding principles", set forth by Superintendent Glenn Wachter. The new mascot must:
WEST IRONDEQUOIT CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
370 Cooper Road, Rochester, NY 14617
To: All media
From: Teresa L. Werth, Director of Public Information
Date: November 19, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
West Irondequoit announces new name
The winning name is the West Irondequoit Eagles.
Results of the voting for the new school nickname are verified as follows:
Iron Eagles 652
The Class of 2002 will retain the Indian name until it is formally retired
next spring when the new name is formally adopted.
As announced in the renaming process, a logo competition will take place in
January. Those interested in submitting a design for the competition may
send submissions to: Robert Geroux, IHS Art Dept. 260 Cooper Road,
Rochester, NY 14617. Designs should include school colors (royal blue and
gold) in a format no larger than 12 X 16" and should include the name,
address and phone number of the artist.
All students, staff, community residents and alumni were eligible to vote
for a new name on November 14 and 15.
Irondequoit athletes will soar, like Eagles
Linda Quinlan/Messenger Post Staff
November 21, 2001
The school's traditional "Indians" will be succeeded by a new, patriotic mascot name.
Controversy over a new mascot name for the West Irondequoit School District may be winding
With 3,692 votes cast through Nov. 15, and ballots verified, Eagles has emerged the winner
of a three-month-long process to select a new mascot for the district.
In deference to a strongly-worded State Education Department suggestion, the district's
Board of Education voted to retire the longtime "Indians" mascot in August, because some say
it can be offensive to Native Americans.
More than 180 entries for new mascot names poured in - and were narrowed to five by a name
selection committee. It was those five names on which all students (K-12), staff, community
residents, and alumni voted on earlier this month.
"That was determined as part of the process, that anyone who worked, lived, or attended
school in the district could vote," Irondequoit High School Principal Jeff Crane said.
Eagles came out on top with 1,135 votes, followed by Bayhawks with 804; Raptors with 678;
Iron Eagles with 652; and Pride with 423.
This year's seniors, the class of 2002, will retain the Indians name until it is formally
retired next spring. The new name will officially be adopted then.
While "disgusted with the whole thing," Dee Tuschong, who has lived in Irondequoit for 54
years, said she didn't understand why teachers were allowed to vote, because many of them
don't live in the district.
"It doesn't make sense to me," she said.
She did favor the Eagles name.
"I liked Bayhawks because it was original," Irondequoit High School senior Francesca Magri
said, "but I like Eagles a lot, too. It still has that Native American symbolism of the
Senior Angela Aratari voted for Eagles.
"I like the fact it can reflect back to the Indians. Their culture respects eagles a lot,
so the mascot name still has something to do with Native American culture," Angela said.
"The eagle is one of the most revered aspects of Native American culture," district
spokeswoman Teresa Werth said. "I think the new name has some interesting potential."
Those who submitted the name Eagles - about 80 of the original 180 entries - gave the
· When combined with "Irondequoit," it has good word flow and reflects national pride.
· An eagle is a soaring, dominant bird with a piercing gaze that creates the perception
of a formidable competitor.
· Eagles are strong, grand, stately, rare, regal, and breathtaking.
· Eagles symbolize power, fortitude, and success, both academically and athletically.
· Their survival from near extinction speaks for itself.
The district's athletic director, Dennis Fries, said that with 84 athletic teams in grade
seven through 12, the earliest "Irondequoit Eagles" will be seen on team uniforms will be
next fall. Uniforms are currently replaced on a rotation basis, which will not change as
a result of the new name, he said.
The district does not have the funds to replace uniforms all at once, Werth said.
Fries said that students seemed to "go about their business" when the new name was
announced Monday afternoon.
Crane said he heard some cheers outside his office door.
"I also think a lot of emotion has been played out as we've gotten to this point," Crane
"I know a lot of students still feel loyal to 'Indians.' I think Eagles will take a while
to get used to," student council president Jamie Gentile said.
"But it's such a proud symbol," she added. "I think it will be a good representation for
"I wanted Bayhawks, but I think Eagles fits more for this time (in history), with the
patriotism of the symbol," senior Geoff Sanderson said.
"It wasn't my personal choice, but I'm happy with the decision," junior Mark Johnson said,
who had favored "Pride."
Teacher Steve Schockow turned the voting process at Dake Junior High last Wednesday, Nov. 14,
into a learning experience.
He had the voting machines set up in his social studies classroom and stationed student
volunteers to "sign in" voters as he explained how the machine worked.
"This is a good educational opportunity," Schockow said.
Voters in just one 15-minute period were favoring all but one of the names.
"I like Bayhawks because it sounds good," Emily Eckrich said.
"I like Iron Eagles because the first four letters represent Irondequoit," seventh-grader
Mike DeCook said.
"I like Raptors because they're strong and good fighters," eighth-grader Roger Lane, 13,
"I like Eagles because it's shorter," Rachel Carstens said. "Plus, it's better than the
rest of the choices."
"I like Eagles because it's, like, strong for our country," eighth-grader Shanna Baccari
There are a handful of teams in the western New York region with Eagles mascots, Fries
said, but none in the Monroe County League.
"The closest one, I think, is Midlakes, which has the Screamin' Eagles," he said.
The next step in the renaming process will be a logo competition, which will take place in
Since Francesca and Geoff are both art students, each is considering submitting a design.
Those interested in submitting a design for the competition may direct it to Robert Geroux,
Irondequoit High School art department, 260 Cooper Road, Irondequoit, 14617.
Designs should include school colors (royal blue and gold) in a format no larger than 12
inches by 16 inches and should include the name, address, and phone number of the artist.
©Irondequoit Post 2001
'Eagles' logo winner announced
Linda Quinlan/Post Staff
March 07, 2002
Graphic artist Helen Barry of Irondequoit came up with the winning design.
The Irondequoit Eagles now have a face to go with their new name.
The West Irondequoit Central School District announced Friday, March 1, that
the winner of its logo design competition is Helen P. Barry of Helen P. Barry
Graphic Design, 70 Kings Gate South.
Barry's bold, crisp design of an eagle head, with the words "Irondequoit Eagles,"
was chosen by a jury of six artists from a field of 106 entries from 43 different
The school board decided late last summer to retire the district's "Indians" mascot
because some behaviors associated with the name could be offensive to Native
Americans. The action had also been strongly suggested by Richard Mills, state
commissioner of education.
During a fall vote that was a culmination of a search for a new name, "Eagles"
was chosen as the "Indians" successor.
Barry said she was surprised and pleased her design - one of four she submitted -
"But if it was up to me, we'd probably still be 'Indians,'" Barry said.
A graphic artist by training and profession, Barry has done design work out of
her home for 10 years. Her husband, John, and neighbors urged her to enter the
Thinking an eagle with wings would be "too much," she chose an eagle's head and
face, then envisioned it in a kind of circle, Barry said.
"I wanted it (the logo) to look fast, like a sports team running," she said,
explaining that, "sometimes less is more; the key to a good logo is something
that reproduces well."
Versions of the logo, often with the words "Irondequoit Eagles," will appear on
team uniforms, school planners and notebooks, and elsewhere throughout the district.
"It's magnificent. I'm excited. We're ready to move forward now," the district's
director of athletics, Dennis Fries, said.
He said he especially liked what he called the "fluid motion" of the design.
Fries added that the first bid for new uniforms for the 2002-03 school year won't
go out until the end of April.
"You won't find Eagles or the new logo on uniforms this year," he said.
It certainly will be showing up on future athletes.
"I've never done anything this widespread before, that will be around for a while,"
She has left her mark on the district, already, however. She also designed a logo
that appears on T-shirts and sweatshirts sold as a fund-raiser by the district's
PTA. That logo features a star above all the names of district schools.
Barry, a native of Long Island who has called Irondequoit home for 16 years, has
two children, Michael, a fourth grader at Rogers Middle School, and Laura, a
seventh grader at Dake Junior High.
She has been an active volunteer in the schools, serving as a room parent and a
chair of the PTA Reflections art contest.
A jury chaired by Irondequoit High School art department coordinator Robert Geroux
convened Feb. 27 and spent three hours pouring over the logo entries before selecting
Barry's logo. The vote was unanimous.
"What we do here today becomes the future of the Irondequoit Eagles. In a very real
sense, we're moving us forward while we give something back to our community," Geroux
told the group he had assembled.
The remaining jurors were: award-winning Irondequoit artist and illustrator John
Pata; non-resident artist Luvon Shepherd, a Rochester Institute of Technology art
professor; alumni artist Laddawan Juhong, a foreign exchange student from Thailand;
student artist Chelsea Davidson; and local businesswoman Mary Lou Wilson of Bob
Wright Creative Group. Fries and IHS varsity tennis coach Willie Buchholz served
in an ex-officio capacity.
Students were shown the new logo last Friday. Fries said students who have come
to him have been positive about it, "but that doesn't mean they're all happy with
it. You can't expect that right off the bat."
Jurors focused on selecting an entry that was strongly connected to the qualities
in the definition of "Eagles" presented to the community, students, staff and alumni
at the time the new name was selected last November, district spokeswoman Theresa
The community said they "wanted an image that reflected the 21st century, would be
equally effective and appropriate on men's or women's uniforms, possessed "eye
impact," and was immediately recognizable and dignified, Werth said.
The new "Irondequoit Eagles" name and logo will be formally adopted during a 7 p.m.
ceremony Friday, May 3, in the Alumni Courtyard at Irondequoit High School. The
"Indians" name will also be respectfully retired at that time.
The class of 2002 will be the last IHS class to use the "Indian" name, Werth said,
but added, "and of course, all current IHS alumni will be 'Indians forever.'"
©Irondequoit Post 2002
'Indians' mascot is respectfully retired
Linda Quinlan/Messenger Post Staff
May 09, 2002
West Irondequoit's name switch to Eagles becomes effective July 1.
A bald eagle named Liberty and representatives from a Native American state
historic site were present.
In the sunny alumni courtyard at Irondequoit High School late last Friday
afternoon, about 100 students, faculty, staff, administrators, board members,
guests, and alumni from classes dating as far back as 1937 gathered to mark
the respectful retirement of the district's longtime "Indians" mascot and
logo and formal adoption of the new "Eagles" mascot and logo.
"Indians," however, will still be used through the end of the school year.
The "Eagles" name is effective July 1.
The IHS Jazz Choir opened the event by singing the National Anthem, followed
by initial remarks by Student Government President Jaime Gentile.
There was acknowledgement of the depth of meaning for the tradition of the
Indians name and the fact that it will take time to have the same feeling
for the Eagles.
"Today, this tradition, this new name, is too young and too new for us to
speak about it with passion or to feel that we strongly identify with it ...
but 'West Irondequoit Eagles' will come to have meaning for us," student
Chelsea Davidson predicted in her remarks at the ceremony. "It will stand
for the pride we take in our school and our athletic teams. This new name
will become the root, the heart of our school spirit."
The district's board of education unanimously voted to change the name
late last summer in response to a spring request from state Commissioner
of Education Richard Mills, citing the insensitivity of the continued use
of Native American names, symbols, and mascots.
After a search process for a new name, Eagles was the majority choice of
the community in a vote last fall.
"I like to think of what we are about to do," Superintendent Glenn Wachter
said at the ceremony, "not simply as change, but as growth, a maturing of
our society in general."
"While we will always cherish what this (Indians) name has meant for us
and will always mean for generations of our graduates, we now understand
that its meaning is quite different for native people," he added. "Perhaps
the essence of honoring is listening and respecting."
Peter Jemison, manager of the state historic site at Ganondagan in Victor,
once the capital city of the Seneca Nation, and colleague Ronnie Reiter
commended the school board for the action they took.
Gentile and IHS Principal Jeff Crane unveiled an 18-inch by 18-inch bronze
plaque that will be permanently displayed in the courtyard as a reminder
of the former name. With the words "We owe much to the values, dignity,
worth, and wisdom of the Iroquois culture," the plaque acknowledges the
long and proud history of IHS classes that used the Indians moniker for
athletic competition. A profile of a Native American is in the center.
The plaque was designed by Gupp Signs of Rochester and sits on a pedestal
built by Andy Riccheuto, a mason on the district's environmental services
Liberty, a living American eagle, and his handler, Paul Schnell of Lyndonville,
were part of the ceremony not only as a symbol of the new name, but Schnell
also talked about the legend and symbolism of the graceful bird.
Irondequoit parent Helen Barry was also recognized for designing the new
logo, a profile of an eagle with its beak open.
IHS English teacher Elaine Royer recited a poem, "Where Eagles Fly," and
the ceremony concluded with a performance of the first Eagles cheer by the
IHS cheerleading squad.
All guests received a commemorative wooden token featuring both the old
and new logos.
All 250 tokens were distributed and all are gone, said district spokeswoman
Alumni unveiled an official "Indians Forever" sweatshirt, which is being
made by Passantino Sports of Irondequoit.
A sweatshirt with the new Eagles logo was also unveiled. It will be available
after July 1. Orders for both are now being accepted.
Athletic director Dennis Fries concluded the ceremony by promising, "We will
fly where eagles fly."
©Irondequoit Post 2002