Name change, mascots approved at three schools in Spokane due to concerns

The Spokane public school board made it official Wednesday night: the mascot of the North Central Indians will soon be retired.

Also by a unanimous vote, the board approved a name change to Sheridan Elementary and a new mascot to replace the Braves at Garry Middle School.

Changes at NC and Sheridan had been underway since last year, with extensive academic and community support for both.

While some might argue that a new state law would have banned the NC and Garry mascots anyway, board chairman Jerrall Haynes didn’t see it that way.

Haynes noted that it was NC student Ivy Pete who spoke on behalf of a bill banning the use of Native American mascots in public schools.

“A significant portion of this law came from our part of the state,” Haynes said. “It could be that the state law is still the same if it wasn’t for our students at North Central taking up this issue and saying it’s not fair and needs to be changed.”

In all three cases, the district will move forward with students, staff and community members to come up with a new name or mascot.

The timing of the changes is uncertain.

Under the new law, NC and Garry have until the end of 2021 to choose new mascots.

“We are also awaiting advice from the State Superintendent’s Office of Public Education on a schedule to apply for a grant to reimburse the school district for the necessary changes,” Associate Superintendent Mark Anderson said in an email Thursday.

These changes would include removing old symbols from gymnasium floors, reading boards and other surfaces.

It’s also unclear what will happen to the Garry Middle School logo, which features hands clasped on a ring, superimposed on an arrowhead.

Wednesday’s meeting prompted two comments defending the logo.

“It symbolizes something for kids like me, indicating a great and bright future,” a former student told the board.

The procedure will be slightly different at Sheridan. The district will solicit new names from clients, then form a selection committee to review the suggestions and recommend three finalists for council approval.

Earlier in the meeting, the board heard from about two dozen people on the proposed names for its three new colleges.

Reflecting the results of a public poll held over the next two years, most commentators preferred to name the new Northeastern College after Denny Yasuhara, a teacher and civil rights activist; and the New South Hill School after Carla Peperzak, a Dutch resistance fighter who saved dozens of Jews during the Holocaust and now lives in Spokane.

The board is due to make a final decision on the four schools on May 26.

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