By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
RAVENA-COEYMANS-SELKIRK — The RCS school district has unveiled the new team name and mascot. RCS will be the home of the Ravens beginning with the 2024-25 school year.
The new name will replace the Indians, which was the school’s name and mascot for nearly 70 years.
The team will continue to be the Indians through the current school year.
The change comes amid a mandate by the state to retire all team names that are affiliated with Native American heritage or culture. In addition to the numerous “Indians” teams around the state, other names that were targeted were Warriors, Redskins, Chiefs and Red Raiders, among others.
In total, there are 55 school districts around New York state that are affected by the state’s Board of Regents requirement.
Schools that do not comply with the state mandate face losing state aid, which for RCS amounts to over $20 million a year, as well as other consequences.
The Ravens name comes after numerous online surveys conducted over the past six months in which the community was asked to suggest new names, and later, to vote on them. The list was whittled down in the final round to Ravens, Raptors and Swarm.
The final round of voting for the rebranding drew more than 2,500 votes from around the community. The deadline to complete the online survey was Oct. 3, and the results were unveiled Friday morning.
Of the three final names, 46% of the votes went to the Ravens. The name with the second highest number of votes was Raptors, with 37%, and Swarm came in third place with 17%.
The team will be rebranded as the Ravens, and the district will next move to a student art contest to begin the process of creating a visual mascot and brand for the new name.
“Students will submit their concepts for what our mascot will look like and our community will cast one final vote for our new logo,” according to a statement from the district. “If needed, a professional graphic artist will render our new logo for print and digital use.”
Once the logo has been finalized, the district will move forward with the official name change during the 2024-25 school year. The district’s facilities will also have to reflect the new name in signage, the turf field, uniforms, on the bottom of the swimming pool, and elsewhere. Those changes are expected to take place during the 2025-26 school year, according to the district.
“This is a time of reflection on the nearly 70 years that we were known as the Indians,” according to the district statement. “We acknowledge the retirement of our mascot as a meaningful community effort and are grateful for all who have participated in his process.”
The state requires the Indians name to be officially retired by the end of next year.
The mandate reflects a national push to change Native American team names, also leading to changes among professional sports teams in Washington, D.C., and Cleveland, Ohio.