Some Hays parents hope for mascot rebrand with new high school

The Kansas State Board of Education voted to recommend changes for schools with Native American-themed mascots. Hays is among the possibly-impacted districts.
Published: Nov. 10, 2022 at 7:20 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HAYS, Kan. (KWCH) - The Kansas State Board of Education on Thursday voted to recommend changes for schools with Native American-themed mascots. It’s the latest in an ongoing conversation that’s drawn strong responses from both sides. Hays is one of more than two dozen school districts that could be affected.

Last month, the state board of education heard a statewide push to retire the use of Native American-themed mascots. In the last few years, several Kansas school districts rebranded after dropping the use of Native mascots. This includes Wichita North High School that dropped “Redskins” from its branding.

Currently, Hays High School’s mascot is among several schools with teams named “the Indians.” With a rebrand underway for the opening of its new high school next year, there aren’t currently plans to change the mascot. Some parents hope that will happen. In 2020, a group started petitioning to change Hays from “the Indians.”

“I’m trying to teach my children that we respect the humanity and equality of all persons. And to see these kinds of symbols, it’s difficult to rationalize to them why it is like this,” one parent in support of a change said.

Hays Public Schools Superintendent Ron Wilson said feedback on the issue is important.

“We’re going to listen to everyone and we want to be respectful and appropriate to the way we respond to all of the decisions that have been made,” Wilson said.

He said he wants to ensure that every voice is heard. He said the district plans to hold a community conversation next week and has sought feedback with surveys sent out to the community.

Hays Middle School seventh grader Elizabeth Bergman wrote an essay addressing the topic of Native American-themed mascots. She said she saw an opportunity to use her voice with her paper in which she advocates for a change.

“Because I can’t vote, I can’t really do anything because I’m only 12 years old,” Bergman said. “I felt like it needed to be addressed in a well-researched, meaningful way.”

She hopes others feel the same.

Results from a recent community survey will be addressed at 6 p.m. next Tuesday, Nov. 15, at the 12th Street Auditorium in Hays.