By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — What will be RCS’s new team name and mascot?
The “Indians” name is in the process of being retired after the State Education Department handed down a mandate late last year requiring that school names and mascots that evoke Native American imagery be changed.
School districts that decline to make the change face losing state funding that amounts to over $20 million a year for the RCS district as well as other consequences.
So, the board of education appointed a committee to oversee the process of selecting a new name, engaging the public in the decision-making through a series of surveys.
That process has narrowed down the possible new names to three options, and another survey is expected to be released in a couple of months to make the final selection, District Superintendent Dr. Brian Bailey said at the July 12 board of education meeting.
“We have three names that will be going out to the public again in the fall,” Bailey said. “They are Raptors, Ravens and the Swarm. We did a third survey to get down from the seven that received a mixed number of third-place votes.”
Raptors and Ravens were top favorites following the second public survey, receiving 1,445 votes and 1,509 votes respectively, but the third-place slot was very close, with seven names vying for the position. The district in June asked the public to vote for a final third option, with the choices listed as Bull Dogs, Eagles, Hornets, Panthers, RailRiders, Swarm and Yellow Jackets.
Community members picked “Swarm” as the third option.
In the fall, another survey will be taken to make the final choice, Bailey said.
“By late September, early October, we’ll have one final vote where people get to select one of the three and then we’ll reveal that to the community, and then we’ll have an art contest so that students can participate and ideally build whatever the icon will be for the mascot,” Bailey said.
“We would like to partner with any number of professional print shop organizations to make it look professional,” he added. “It wouldn’t be a student’s drawing, but it would be a professional rendering of whatever they come up with so there’ll be a fifth survey around the artwork for whatever our new name is and the logo.”
Everyone in the community will be encouraged to participate in the voting, he said.
Meanwhile, the district is in the process of purchasing new team uniforms but without an official team name or mascot, the new uniforms will be generic.
“The uniforms that we are purchasing now are neutral RCS green and gold uniforms,” Bailey said. “There has been no discussion about changing our colors — that’s not something that the committee was interested in doing because anything that we choose can be made green and gold.”
The district is expected to officially retire the Indians’ team name by the end of next year.
In the interim, the district will be figuring out what needs to be changed to reflect the new name, whatever it will be, such as school banners, the football field, the bottom of the pool, all areas where the Indians’ name and imagery appear.
“Those things all have to be considered through the summer of 2025 so we will be able to map that out more carefully, but we have ample time to do it,” Bailey said. “We will have all of our decisions and our logo decided on by December or January of 2023-24.”
Once that happens, the team will no longer be called the “Indians.”
“People who come to the games can do whatever they want, members of the public can do whatever they want, but we as a school district will no longer be representing ourselves as the Indians,” Bailey said.