KILLINGLY, CT (WFSB) – A debate over a controversial mascot at Killingly High School came to a head on Wednesday.
Killingly’s Board of Education ultimately decided to have no mascot after a heated 5 hour debate.
The decision was made around 11:45 p.m.
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The debate centered around reinstating a Native American-themed mascot, the "redmen."
Two votes were held. In the first, the board rescinded the recently-approved "red hawk" mascot. In the second, it voted down the reinstatement of the redmen.
"I'm a little shocked," said Kevin Kerttula of Killingly. "I thought they were going to go and bring back the redmen name and I guess it's sort of on hold until they're going to make subcommittee and look for other options."
The board expected the large crowd, which provided public commentary for nearly 4 hours. Not only were families there, but also Native American tribes.
The question surrounding the mascot was whether it was tradition or offensive.
It's been an ongoing debate in the town.
In October, the Board of Education approved replacing "redmen" with "red hawks."
In November, newly-elected candidates vowed to bring back the former mascot. It’s a move not commonly seen in an era where schools have been removing Native American-based mascots and symbols.
This decision divided the town.
“A decision was made. I think it’s just time to move on,” said Jan Blanchette of Killingly.
Some supporters of the former mascot said it’s respectful and countered arguments made by area Native American tribes.
“They basically desecrated their land to build casinos and gamble and raise all sorts of millions of dollars and money. So, for them to come in and say we’re bad because we have this mascot, to me, doesn’t make a lot of sense,” said Jason Kirkconnell of Killingly.
Meanwhile, Killingly’s football team heads to a state championship over the weekend with no mascot.
Channel 3 reached out to the superintendent, but hasn’t heard back.
Another meeting on the topic will happen, the board said. However, a date has not been set.