the Shrewsbury High School Mascot Ad Hoc Study Group

Message to Families from Dr. Sawyer and Mr. Bazydlo re: Mascot Debate

November 22, 2020

Dear Shrewsbury Families,

Recently, the School Committee has been presented with a petition to change the Shrewsbury High School mascot and a counter-petition to keep the mascot.  

As has been the case in other school districts, colleges, and with professional sports teams, a debate about the change of a mascot is always controversial and involves a high level of emotion, as it is deeply connected to both the identity of the organization and the perceptions of individuals who are affiliated with the organization. Strong opinions and disagreements are part of these debates.  

However, we are deeply disappointed that some have used the comment section of these petitions or other social media to communicate about this issue in ways that are insulting, belittling, and disrespectful. Further, we have received reports of potential harassment of our students, our community’s children, over this issue, which are being investigated. We are asking students and adults in our community who care about this issue to be mindful of what you choose to say and how you choose to say it, including on social media, so that the discourse on this topic is respectful and productive. We ask that you remember that respectfully exercising the right to petition local government to take action to change something is a sacred right in our democracy, as is the right of others to respectfully object to what has been put forward. However, we also want to be clear that we expect that our school community’s norm of respect will be adhered to when communicating about this issue, and that any harassment of any of our students or school community members will be addressed with the utmost seriousness. Parents, we are asking you for your help by discussing these expectations with your students; SHS students are also receiving a similar message as well.

To the adults in our community, we urge you to consider how we might model civil discourse and respectful dialogue for the young people who are watching this debate unfold. We believe this is an excellent opportunity to model how the democratic process can ensure that all voices are heard, that we can listen to those with whom we disagree and truly try to consider their point of view, and that we can engage in thoughtful and respectful debate before a decision is made on a matter – especially when that decision is sure to please some members of the community and disappoint or anger others.

As a reminder, an ad hoc study group of SHS students, parents, staff, and alumni is being formed. This group will be charged with investigating the origins of the Colonials mascot at SHS; learning about the mascot's historical context; soliciting and considering viewpoints regarding 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. Applications to be a member of this study group must be submitted by November 30 using this online application form

We are confident that the approach the school district is taking to address this issue is a judicious one. We believe that our community can do this the right way – we expect no less of Shrewsbury. We ask for your support to make this debate constructive and respectful, rather than destructive and divisive. 


Joe Sawyer                              Todd Bazydlo

Superintendent of Schools       Principal, Shrewsbury High School

Dear Shrewsbury High School Students, Parents & Caretakers, Faculty & Staff, &a...

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