Where Does the Mascot Go From Here?

RTSD school board members voting to adjourn the May 11th Board Meeting

RTSD school board members voting to adjourn the May 11th Board Meeting

Sammy Rosin

The Radnor mascot has generated a lot of  discussion since the summer of 2020, leading to countless school board meetings, a walkout, and hours of public comment. Although the school board originally voted to remove the  Raider name and imagery on September 2, 2020, supporters of the former nickname continued to advocate for their cause. Some Radnor students started a group to “Change the mascot, save the name, keep the RAIDER in Radnor,” and they began campaigning to include the Raider as an option on the re-naming ballot, with parents and community members joining in to support them. After hours of deliberation, however, on Tuesday, May 11, 2020, the school board voted once again to retire the Raider name. After the district took this brief pause in the rebranding process to consider additional  community input, the renaming process to determine Radnor’s new mascot will now continue. 

Supporters of the Raider re-initiated their campaign this past April. At the April 27th RTSD school board meeting, the board members listened to more than 100 public comments over the span of two hours. Those supporting the Raider wrote to ask the board to allow for the former nickname to return as an option in the renaming process but with a different mascot (i.e, a pirate). Freshman Allie Engle described her decision to support the Raider nickname, “ [W]e students should have a voice too…We should be able to show that this word  means something to our community and we should fight to keep the Raider Nation.”  Many other community members submitted comments asking the board to uphold their original decision to entirely remove the Raider in consideration of the racist ties between the Native American imagery and the nickname. 

Three board members, Liz Duffy, Jeff Jublier, and Nancy Monahan, requested a special board meeting for the following Tuesday, May 4, in order for the board to publicly discuss introducing the Raider name into the rebranding process. Duffy explained, “ It’s time to have a conversation… I think it would be helpful to the public to have us respond and have a discussion about what we have been hearing since September 2.”

As requested, on May 4th, the board met again to discuss the rebranding process. While the only item on the agenda was discussing the mascot, the meeting continued for nearly 5 hours, with most of the time spent on public comment. At the beginning of the night, Board member Susan Stern made the purpose of the meeting clear: “ We are going to listen tonight, we are going to talk tonight, and we are going to move forward as a district.” No decision, however, resulted from this meeting, and at close to midnight, the board decided to recess until the following week.

The most recent board meeting regarding the future mascot of RTSD took place Tuesday, May 11th. At this meeting, the board voted 6-3 reaffirming the removal of Radnor’s previous nickname. Throughout the night, board members proposed a variety of different plans, but each new motion failed. Board member Bradley Moore explained  his original decision to remove the Raider name and imagery by saying, “ People have so much pride in their community. We could refresh that pride with something moving forward that is inclusive of all. Say what you want about the Raider name, but it is hard to describe it as inclusive given the division we have been observing over decades.” As a student at RHS, Junior Leni Hartman believes, “The name Raider has led to the negative association of Native Americans with thievery. Even with a different mascot, it would be nearly impossible to erase the past 70 years in which the name Raider has been linked to Native American imagery. The best way to move forward is to completely rid our school of both the name and the imagery.”

Following the May 11th vote, the district plans to move forward with officially choosing a new mascot to represent Radnor High School and Radnor Middle School. As originally determined, the students will have the final vote for Radnor’s new name and mascot. All students in grades 8-12 will choose between two nicknames, and the winning result will be presented to the school board for approval on June 22nd. Throughout the winter, a committee made up  of students, parents, and teachers worked collectively to develop ideas for a new mascot and nickname. Members of the school board discussed disbanding the naming committee and opening up the voting to the entire student body, but the current list put forth by the committee still contains 8 mascot possibilities. On Monday morning, RHS students watched a video about the different rebranding options and then had the chance to give feedback through a survey. For now, the renaming committee will continue working to narrow down the options to 2 names from which the 8-12 graders will pick the winner.  Favorite ideas of the community include the Raptors, the Gryphons, and the Radnor Ruckus.