Hays High not changing from ‘Indians,’ future middle school mascot TBA

Hays High School in Hays, Kansas
Hays High School in Hays, Kansas(KWCH)
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 4:21 PM CST
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HAYS, Kan. (KWCH) - The Hays USD 489 Board of Education at its meeting Monday night took a vote regarding branding for its middle school, set to be in a new home in 2026, but did not take action in regard to a larger discussion pertaining to names and mascots.

The “Indian” mascot for Hays High School didn’t come up for reconsideration at the board’s meeting. With that, a district spokesperson said there is no name change when it comes to branding for Hays High. Change is coming with a move to a new building.

In May, voters in Ellis County approved a $143 million bond issue for the Hays school district. Results from the county election office showed the bond passing by about 500 votes. Voters also approved a half-cent sales tax to pay for the bond, moving forward with planned improvements that include the new high school.

The new building for Hays High will remain on its current campus. Hays Middle School will move into the current high school space. With both schools becoming next door neighbors in 2026, the discussion at Monday night’s BOE meeting in part focused on continuity between the schools. Students participating in sports and activities for Hays Middle School are currently called “the Falcons.” Monday night, a motion to transition the middle school to “the Indians” in 2026 narrowly failed. A district spokesperson said the middle school’s future mascot is to be determined.

A second motion Monday night for Hays Middle School and Hays High School to at least share the same color scheme and motto of “brave and true,” when the schools become next door neighbors passed.

In October, 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 which dropped “Redskins” from its branding.

Some Hays parents had expressed hope that such a change would happen in their district. Others strongly expressed support for keeping Hays “the Indians.”