BELLINGHAM, Wash. - The Bellingham school district has launched a task force to come up with a new school mascot name for the high school.
The district said the task force comes after people, mostly students, contacted the district about changing the name.
The current mascot was revamped in 2000 and it features a red-tailed hawk. The school made the decision then to get rid of all Native American imagery as a mascot, but kept the name "Red Raiders."
"Last spring... we were in the Seattle Times listed as a school that had a Native American mascot but I was thinking 'wait, wait, wait, we have a bird,' yet so many people still associate us with the Native American mascot. I think that's when we all realized it's time to start talking and deciding how we want our school represented," said Dr. Linda Wise Miller, the Bellingham High School principal.
Miller said the decision to change the name really started with the students.
"I also saw our mascot in the Seattle Times and that really opened my eyes to how our school is playing into systemic racism, but I think in general, students are learning about how systemic racism affects our society. I think we're all eager to dismantle that system and I think that starts in our own communities," said 12th grade student Logan Foy, who is also the high school's student body president.
"I think we're all engaged in a journey and we're learning as administrators in the district. We've been learning about equity, diversity and inclusion. We've been watching what happens in our community and our state and our nation," Miller said.
Dr. Janis Velasquez Farmer, the director of equity, diversity and inclusion, said the school is located on Coast Salish land. She said while they are not in a position to give the land back, the school can start to repair relationships in this way.
Members of the task force include the school's principal, the activity/athletics coordinator, eight Bellingham High School students, four staff members and two community members, among others.