Wakefield community divided over decision to nix school mascot

WAKEFIELD, MASS. (WHDH) - Wakefield is a town divided.

From the signs to flags and some honks, people in town are taking their passionate stances to the polls to vote on whether to keep the high school’s Native American mascot — a majority came back as “yes, keep the logo.”

“It’s town tradition we honor we actually honor our Indian the Indians that lived here before us by keeping the symbol,” said Tom Wasnor.

On the other side of the argument, Nicole Calabrese said, “I think that accurate and fair representation and listening to marginalized groups of people is of the utmost importance for processing equality.”

The results go against the School Committee who voted last month to get rid of the logo amid criticism that it perpetuates stereotypes about Native Americans.

Committee members who voted for the change said they understand the logo has been around for decades.

“But it’s 2021 and we have to listen to the voices of those who are impacted by this kind of imagery,” said Committee Member Greg Liakos.

Tuesday’s referendum vote is nonbinding, “so that means that the school committee is not obligated to pay attention to it at all,” Liakos said.

But, some say the results still matter.

“To me, it sends a message about what kind of community we are and I know that the discussion that we’ve been having and in the local paper and on social media has already made people of color in Wakefield really uncomfortable,” Calabrese said.

“It’s not just a logo to us it represents a rich history,” said Michelle McNall who is for keeping the logo. “It shows the pride that we have and I hope that the town winds up saying keep the logo, keep the pride and we together as a community can heal.”

The Warrior name will stay but the logo will change. School officials are working to choose another image.

The School Committee may decide to revisit the decision later on down the line.

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