Glens Falls’ new school mascot is wild

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GLENS FALLS — Glen Falls Central School District is no longer foraging for a new mascot.

School policy makers earlier this week unanimously choose to rebrand as the Black Bears, the latest switch-up as districts far and wide face pressure from the state to ditch Native American-themed mascot names and logos. GFCSD has branded itself as the “Indians” since 1941.

A new logo featuring the arboreal omnivore will be unveiled come June.

The North Country school district started phasing out its 53-year-old headdress athletic logo in recent years for an arrowhead emblazoned with “GF” — something seen by the administration as middle ground between proponents and opponents of the name.

“This issue, it’s sort of been a question for folks for several years: should we remain the Indians?” said GFCSD spokesperson Skye Heritage. “There’s a lot of strong feelings on both sides of that.”

Indigenous-themed school icons have been deemed by opponents as offensive and to proponents, a non-issue or source of pride. In a 2021 survey of 647 Glens Falls students, 47.9% of respondents wanted to keep the existing logo, 45.7% wanted a change and 6.5% were uncertain.

Regardless, under orders from the state Education Department of Education last year, all school districts must toss all Native American-associated themes or lose state aid.

“With the arrowhead being associated with Native Americans, that also does need to go,” said Heritage.

Under NYSED guidelines, all school boards must begin the removal process by the end of this school year and remove all associated images by the fall.

Fonda-Fultonville Central School District in Montgomery County unsuccessfully attempted to keep the Braves name after getting the OK of a local tribe leader and Cambridge Central School District filed an appeal in February to keep its “Indians” mascot.

A bevy of school system leaders like Schoharie Central School District Superintendent David Blanchard have accepted the change despite blowback across the district. SCSD’s new mascot is expected to be unveiled Wednesday following a two-week voting process.

GFCSD’s student cabinet, since early February, has received more than 400 name ideas from the surrounding community while guiding the North Country district’s mascot selection process. The Hawks, Wolves, Black Bears and Knights were among the top four final picks.

While the Hawks was nixed to avoid overlap with Corinth’s new mascot; the Knights name was dropped due to gender associations; Wolves were ranked the least popular of the four per community input.

The medium-sized mammal was recommended to the Board on Monday.

Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.

By Tyler A. McNeil

Tyler A. McNeil is a nine-year multimedia journalist and southern Saratoga County native. Currently, McNeil covers the southern Adirondacks and northern Mohawk Valley with the Daily Gazette and Leader-Herald. He also specializes in political, investigative and transit-related coverage. The University at Albany graduate's reporting has appeared in a variety of outlets, including Buzzfeed, New Food, Saratoga Today and the Times Union.

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