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School board to determine fate of ‘Red Raiders’ at Belmont

Belmont High School is likely to remain known as the Red Raiders, but the mascot itself could change.

The Shaker Regional School Board, which oversees Canterbury and Belmont, is expected to vote on whether to keep or eventually replace the mascot, which features a Native American.

The school’s current mascot has a white face, black hair and a headdress. The school colors are red and white.

“We’re looking to have that vote to make that determination, unless there is additional information we need or for whatever reason it needs to be tabled,” school board Chairwoman Heidi Hutchinson said yesterday. “It’s been a pretty respectful process, and I congratulate the students for bringing it forward.”

Yesterday, the school’s student council presented a case to change the mascot’s image to high school staff, who were asked by secret ballot to vote yes or no on the following statement: “Since Belmont High is keeping the slogan ‘Red Raiders,’ as a faculty or staff member, I believe that we should change the mascot from the image of a Native American, to another that will be selected by the students and the staff in the future.”

The results of yesterday’s vote weren’t available. On Tuesday, students will vote on the same question, said Principal Dan Clary. “Then we will give the polling result to the school board, and they will decide a course of action,” Clary said in an email.

During a public forum in April, a majority of people in attendance said they wanted to keep the Red Raider name. At the time, student representatives said if the school keeps the moniker, then the mascot could be redesigned.

While discussion about Native American-themed mascots continues on the national level, talk of change in Belmont officially started in March, when the student council scheduled the forum to discuss the Red Raider mascot. “It’s been a very professional process. When people presented during the public forum, the students as well as the participants were very respectful. There was nothing out of control,” Hutchinson said. “There wasn’t a vote. It was just a presentation to hear what the school and the students thought, just to get a feel for what everyone’s thoughts are.”

The school board will not take a stance until Tuesday, when the student council presents. “We’re not sure what’s coming to the board yet,” Hutchinson said.

On Facebook, the Belmont Student Council’s page leaves out the “Red” and says the school is “Home of the Raiders.”

In 2002, the state Department of Education passed a resolution endorsing “the elimination of the use of Indian sports mascots and encourages all districts to examine this issue and to eliminate the use of sports mascots.”

Other New Hampshire schools with Native American mascots include the Alton Central School Apaches, Colebrook Academy Mohawks, Merrimack High Tomahawks, Sanborn Regional High Indians, Spaulding High Red Raiders and the Winnacunnet High Warriors.

(Iain Wilson can be reached at 369-3313 or iwilson@cmonitor.com.)

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