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Letter: Save Our School Names

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Dear West Hartford Voters, Parents, Students and Board of Education members,

On Tuesday, February 1, the West Hartford Board of Education will vote to eliminate the names Warrior and Chieftain from our high schools.

Make no mistake, this is not about concern for the Town of West Hartford and it certainly is not about concern for Native Americans.  Plain and simple this is about censorship.

The BOE has performed this cloak and dagger maneuver because those who are pushing this agenda, know what they are doing is wrong. They have not been transparent, they have said that they seek public input but have done very little to announce plans and have managed to keep their actions out of scrutiny from the press. In addition, they have specifically chosen a peak time in the middle of COVID to execute this vote during the most difficult and distracted time for most voters. Not to mention, they sincerely hope and pray that voters will forget this atrocity by the time re-election arrives in November 2023.

Certain members of the BOE have pushed this to satisfy their own agenda not the agenda of Native Americans. If they truly cared, why not ask for permission from the Mashantucket Pequots or the Mohegan Tribes in the state? Those tribes could provide permission to use these names. Why have we not pursued this remedy?

Some have argued that this is a financial issue. They say that West Hartford could lose $28,000 per year in government funding if they keep the names. Really? If that’s the case, why has the state not developed an exclusive list of offensive mascot names for towns to consider? In addition, Conard recently spent money on a new gymnasium floor with Chieftains laid out in the out of bounds area of the basketball court. In addition, both schools have many sports teams that recently ordered and paid for new uniforms not to mention all of the signage that surround both schools. Why has the BOE not authorized, at the very least, a cost benefit analysis to see how long it will take to recoup the cost for all of the changes that will be necessary?

This is clearly about censorship. ONE new BOE member wants to make a name for himself and our town suffers because we are distracted by other issues more important to the town and he feels there will be no consequences for his actions. If the BOE goes along, those who vote in favor of changing the school names will be cursed with this legacy of reputation as they know, the majority of the town does not want this. It’s why they fear a referendum.

I know that our town has many more issues on our plate and some may not see this as a big deal. But it’s only a matter of time before they find an institution the town does care about. Maybe it’s eliminating the name Blue Back Square, maybe it’s removing the Noah Webster statue from the Town Center, maybe it’s forcing Wampanoag Country Club to change its name. But make no mistake, censorship does not stop when you allow it to breed.

I know that not all of those in the majority party are for this change. However, they fear peer pressure from their party who has done an amazing job terrorizing parents and students who dare think differently than our school superintendent and certain, radical BOE members. To those BOE members trying to muster the courage to do what is right for our town, please, don’t let West Hartford turn into “Farenheit 451.”

Shawn Daly
West Hartford

Editor’s Note: Shawn Daly is the Chairman of the West Hartford Republican Town Committee. West Hartford Public Schools did reach out to the Native American Tribal Nations that are recognized in Connecticut requesting input regarding the high school nicknames and logos, but not permission to continue to use them. The letter and responses received are posted on the West Hartford Public Schools’ website.

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