Fayetteville, Ark. (KFSM) — On Friday (Nov. 22), Fayetteville Public Schools announced a mascot change for two of their junior high schools.
Ramay Junior High's mascot is currently the Indians. Woodland Junior High's mascot is the Cowboys and Cowgirls.
After reviewing dozens of submissions, committees at both schools narrowed the mascot choices down for students, community members, and staff to vote on.
For Ramay Junior High, the choices were the Red Wolves, Rams, or Bison. For Woodland Junior High, the options were the Colts or the Wolverines.
Woodland's mascot will now be the Colts. Ramay's mascot will be the Red Wolves.
Aerilynn Colvin said Friday (Nov.22) was an emotional day but full of pride as she pulled up to Ramay Junior High to drop her brother off at school.
"I saw the sign that said Red Wolves and kids handing out bracelets saying the Red Wolves. Just seeing people actually contributing made me feel a lot less alone," she said. " I was so happy. I almost cried."
Colvin used to attend the school and was part of the school's mascot change. She started a petition. Around 500 people signed it.
"Why are just Native Americans mascots and not African Americans, or Caucasian people or Asian people? Because they are just as much a race as anybody," Colvin said. "It is just a mascot, but it means a lot more to other people, especially Native American people. It didn't feel right. Mascots are the equivalent to animals, and humans aren't animals. Especially when Native Americans were depicted as savages."
The discussion over whether or not to change the mascots went on for months before a decision was made. Many voiced their concern on both sides of the issue. They went before the Fayetteville School Board before a decision was made on a Thursday (Jan. 25) at a Fayetteville Public School meeting where a vote favored no longer having any human mascots of any kind.
The decision was decided by a 4-3 vote. Woodland Junior High and Ramay Junior High have been the Cowboys and Indians since the schools opened over 50 years ago.
"The School Board directed the administration last year to create a task force to address the changing the junior high mascots to better align with the districts mission and vision," said Alan Wilbourn with the Fayetteville Public School District.
The committee narrowed the choices for both schools down to three and let students, community members, and staff vote on the selection.
School leaders say the change to signs, logos, and uniforms will take time to change out with no set date on when the mascot change over will be complete.
" We will incrementally change signage, resurface the gym floors. Again, that is something you do every few years anyway. This time when we re-finish it, they will take out the old mascot and logos and put in the new signage. At both schools, the administration is going through the buildings. It is not going to be be done by Monday. It will come from maintenance budgets and athletic budgets to take care of that," Wilbourn said.
Mascot Media is a local marketing company and will be designing all new logos for the schools. School leaders say the art will be original, and they hope to have the exact designs of the news mascots in hand in a few weeks.