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Letter to the Editor: Board of Education Will Hold Forum Regarding High School Names, Mascots

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Dear All,

I read the following at the Dec. 2 Board of Education meeting.

In light of the heightened conversations around the use of Native American names and symbols at our both our town’s high schools I am making the following statement.

Debates such as these give our students and extended community an opportunity to take store of where we came from, what we have become, and to consider who we are as part of long and diverse histories and an ever emerging future.

These conversations will only bear healthy and sustainable results if we can have them with civility and respect. Indeed, that is the crux of this debate: can we respectfully use the images and names of others to represent ourselves?

I implore all of us, I expect all of us: students, alums, town officials, parents, coaches, teachers, and all residents to treat each other with civility and patience when discussing this important topic – all topics – at school, in social media, and elsewhere.

And – as our students have shown – changing or keeping our high schools’ names and mascots is an important topic to debate now. As we mentioned before at this table, we urge the students to engage in their own process of discovery and learning. 

This is also an important topic for the whole town of West Hartford. As such, we will be having a public forum in February to hear from all residents. We will announce the exact time and location in the coming weeks.

After February, the Board of Education will decide what to do to best support our schools, their sports programs, and create the best possible climate for learning and growing for all our students.

Thank you.

Mark Overmyer-Velazquez
Chairperson, West Hartford Board of Education

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