By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
In June, the Walpole School Committee voted to drop its team nickname, the Rebels, due to its connection to the Confederacy. Since then, other local communities have been having similar conversations, including Medfield. The Medfield Warriors’ logo includes a geometric figure of a Native American wearing a headdress. Since the discussion has started, local town Facebook groups have erupted with debates about whether or not the logo and name is racist - and whether it should be changed.
Both sides have produced petitions arguing for and against changing the mascot and logo, each with hundreds of signatures. “The Time is Now, Let’s Change the Medfield Mascot,” is a petition composed by Isabella Brooke in favor of changing the mascot. “With countless athletic championship trophies, a thriving arts program, and stellar academic records, Medfield is a place people feel proud to live in. Yet, that pride is not shown in the mascot. Many residents feel ashamed to wear the mascot on their clothes and jerseys,” she writes in the petition. She goes on to note that by continuing to use the mascot, Medfield residents are continuing to ignore the town’s arduous history with Native Americans.
“Keep Medfield Mascot and Name as Warrior,” is a petition circulating against changing the mascot. The petition writer, identifying as Medfield Citizens, acknowledges evolving circumstances and the changes of local mascots, like the Walpole Rebels, but does note that they do not believe that this necessarily applies to Medfield’s mascot. Instead, the mascot provides a generational bridge for Medfielders. “The Medfield Warrior Mascot is something that bridges current students, alumni and the community together. The warrior stands for past and present members of the Medfield High School community. A Warrior is a brave or experienced soldier or fighter which is what we as residents see our beautiful town as: Strong, Community driven, Proud and Confident,” they write.
The issue was addressed during a school committee meeting on June 22. During a conversation about race and bias in schools, Vice Chairperson Jessica Reilly brought up the mascot. "If we're saying that we want to make sure we have examined our biases throughout our curriculum, then we also cannot continue to represent our district through a logo that is a Native American logo and continue to say that it is part of our heritage. We can't continue to essentially tell the history of the victors in the way that we like to do that," Reilly explained. "There's so much good work that can also happen around that very specific and concrete example throughout the community, because it is a symbol that people hold within the community as well within in our schools … We need to be thinking whether we are on the right side of history, and whether we are truly honoring a part of the Native American peoples who lived here, or if we are using that excuse to keep hold of something we feel is important to us but we haven't truly examined it in a way that's important and heartfelt. If we don't continue to use that logo then what do we do? Who are we?"
The mascot issue is an ongoing discussion, and will continue to be addressed in future meetings. The Medfield School Committee plans to host a public forum on the issue on July 30 and vote on it this summer.