Cost is too prohibitive at this time officials say
Update: Dr. Robbie Hooker released the following announcement concerning the Social Circle City Schools Redskins mascot after completing 5-year- strategic plan.
Our governance team believes that our main focus right now should be on keeping our students, staff, and faculty healthy and safe during this pandemic. In addition, this pandemic has caused significant budget issues. The cost of changing our mascot at this time is simply cost prohibitive. We recently completed an in-depth strategic planning process garnering input from stakeholders (parents, students, staff and community members) representing all areas of our community. During the development of the 5 year strategic plan, this issue was not identified as being something that needed to be addressed. Therefore, at this time there will be no change as it relates to our mascot.
We are proud of the high level of student and staff participation in mask-wearing and robust protocols in our school system to mitigate the spread of disease. Please continue to wear masks when social distancing is not possible, stay home when you are sick, and sanitize your hands regularly. We aim to remain open for face to face instruction and need your continued support. We are thankful to serve in such a caring community and appreciate your support for our students and staff.
Two former Redskins spoke at the Social Circle City Schools September 2020 Board of Education meeting to request that the Board change the name and emblem of the schools Redskins mascot. However, it was not on the agenda for any vote and is not likely to be any time soon, according to officials.
John Callahan, chairman of the BOE, said there is a procedure that has to be followed in order to generate a vote by the board and a request to do that would have to come first from the SCCS superintendent. For his part, SCCS superintendent Dr. Robbie Hooker said that it is not anything that he plans to do, at least not at the moment.
“At some time we will likely convene a committee to look at it, from both sides, but it is not anything planned at the moment,” Hooker said, noting that there are more pressing issues facing the school system right now.
With schools currently negotiating dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and keeping students and faculty safe while ensuring that education and extra curricular activities and sports continue as normally as possible are likely considered a higher priority at the moment.
Local resident Mitch Dennis, a supporter of keeping the name the same, had noted earlier in a Facebook post how costly it could prove to change the name and the emblem.
“This will impact every Walton County taxpayer due to the very costly removal and replacement of the mascot. Plus, Social Circle isn’t the only school in Walton County with an indian mascot. If this removal of Social Circle school’s mascot is approved, how many other schools in Walton County will have to change their mascot?” Dennis said. “There a lot more laudable causes that could prove more beneficial to Walton County than the removal of a mascot that has been around for over 50 years,” he said.
Theodoris Gibbs, assistant principal at Harmony Elementary School in Monroe and a former Social City Schools administrator, addressed the BOE Thursday, noting that he spent all his school years at SCCS and even returned later as a coach and employee. His children also attended school at Social Circle, all of them as part of the Redskin Nation. However, he said, he has come to realize that times have changed and the name has taken on a negative connotation.
“The native culture deserves better,” Gibbs said, going on to note how many organizations and schools have changed the name out of respect for Native Americans. “People need to be respectful of all cultures.”
Kelsey Provow, who has a petition requesting the change of more than 1,800 signatures at Change.org that is requesting the change, also spoke. Provow noted that while she is now a resident of Canton, she too spent all her school years as a student in SCCS. Provow said that while some quote the history of Social Circle as a way to honor its history, its history with the Native Americans was not always that great and the term “redskins” was used as a slur. She credited her request to change the name a testament to the core values that she learned during her time in Social Circle to respect others. She acknowledged that change is hard, but said she believed it could be a way to help impart those core values to the current student body.
In her petition she notes, “In Social Circle, Georgia, the name of all our middle school and high school sports teams is the Social Circle Redskins, and our emblem is a Native American man. Redskins is an offensive term used to describe Native Americans, and has been for decades. With the Washington Redskins working on changing their name, I think if the members of our community came together, we could do the same, and choose another mascot/emblem as well. I want people to feel welcome at our school, regardless of race, and that can’t happen with an offensive term being so openly displayed on our schools fields, merchandise, website, and more.”
However, a dueling petition, authored by Daniel Lovell, with more that 2,000 signatures of people not support the change notes, “The name is Redskins. This Name is uplifting and honors the Native American culture. Please do not change the name of the mascot of our high school.”
A third speaker at the BOE meeting, Michael David, used his time to thank the BOE as well as administrators and faculty members for the way SCCS has handled returning to school during the pandemic. He made particular note of the proactive way in which the school system has kept everybody up-to-date on the number of cases and quarantines, something that is now required by the state.
Friday’s figures for SCCS note that this week there is only one new case and nine new quarantines required in the SCSS.