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Call for Applications for SHS Mascot Ad Hoc Study Group

Dear Shrewsbury High School Students, Parents & Caretakers, Faculty & Staff, & Alumni,

 

Recently, the Shrewsbury School Committee received a letter and a petition requesting that the Shrewsbury High School mascot, the “Colonial,” be changed, due to the perception that it is racially insensitive and that it can be perceived as exclusionary and insulting, particularly due to its association with colonialism.

 

The School Committee has charged me with forming an ad hoc group to study the question of whether to change the Shrewsbury High School mascot of the "Colonial."  This study group will consist of 15 members, with three members each from the following categories: SHS students, SHS faculty/staff, current SHS parents, SHS alumni, and SHS administrators (the administrators will be the principal, an assistant principal, and the director of athletics). 

 

The SHS Mascot Ad Hoc Study Group will be charged with investigating the origins of the mascot at SHS; learning about the mascot's historical context; soliciting and considering viewpoints regarding the how the mascot is perceived currently as a representation of the school community; sharing its findings with the community; and ultimately making a recommendation to the School Committee regarding whether to maintain or change the mascot. 

 

As we know from other situations across our nation and within our state, the debate of whether to change a school's mascot inevitably involves strong opinions and disagreement within a community.  It is my belief that this study group will be an important vehicle for our school community to address this question thoughtfully and respectfully, and to be a conduit for the voices of the members of our school community, so that everyone will have had an opportunity to share their perspective as part of the process.   

 

Because this study group’s work will set the tone for how this issue is processed, it is very important that its members model our school district's core values through their actions.  This includes committing to attending meetings and performing preparation work between meetings; demonstrating a willingness to seek information and learn about different perspectives; engaging in respectful dialogue by considering others' opinions and being willing to share one's own; and maintaining an open mind while working to achieve a consensus regarding the group's ultimate recommendation.  

 

If you wish to be considered to serve as a member of the SHS Mascot Ad Hoc Study Group, you must apply using this online application by Monday, November 30.  I will carefully consider all applications and appoint the members of the study group in early December.  Applicants should expect that the study group will begin its work in December 2020 and will meet frequently until it makes its recommendation to the School Committee in March 2021.  Meetings are expected to typically be conducted via Zoom video conference, or otherwise in accordance with health and safety guidelines related to the current pandemic.  Meetings will most likely be held in the evening, although mid- to late-afternoon meetings may be included depending on the availability of the group members.  Study group members will be expected to prepare thoroughly for meetings by reading all materials provided in advance. 

 

Thank you for your consideration of serving as a representative on the study group as part of this important process.

 

Respectfully,

 

Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools