By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — After a months-long process and engagement with the local community, the RCS school district is looking to finalize the district’s new team name and mascot.
New York state has mandated that all schools with team names that reflect Native Americans or their heritage — such as the RCS Indians — change their name or face losing state educational aid and other repercussions.
For RCS, the loss in funding would amount to over $20 million a year.
For several months, the RCS district has been conducting surveys of the local community to whittle down the list of prospective new names to three — Raptors, Ravens and Swarm.
Now, it’s time for the community to respond to the final name-selection survey, which will determine the team’s new name once and for all.
“It is time to make our final decision about the name of our new RCS mascot,” according to the school district’s website. “We were excited to have received over 5,000 responses to the last RCS Rebranding Community Survey, which narrowed down our third choice for the final round. In this final round, our community will be casting their vote by selecting one of these three choices.”
Community members are encouraged to complete the survey, so everyone has a say in the matter.
The survey has only a single question — “Please select your favorite choice that will round out our three-choice ballot in September. We are the RCS…” — with the three options being Raptors, Ravens and Swarm.
The deadline to complete the survey is noon on Tuesday, Oct. 3.
The name that receives the highest number of votes will be the team’s new name.
Once that decision is made, the district plans to get local kids involved on another level.
“We will be holding a student art contest later this fall after the mascot name has been chosen,” according to the district. “Students will submit their concepts for what our mascot will look like and our community will cast one final vote.”
To cast your vote, visit the district website at https://www.rcscsd.org/ .
After the new name is selected, the district will have to begin the process of switching all imagery and signage around the campus to the new name, including athletic uniforms, school banners, the football/soccer field turf, the bottom of the swimming pool, and anywhere else where the Indians name currently appears.
The district is expected to officially retire the Indians’ team name by the end of next year, as required by the state mandate.