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Student petition prompts school board to reconsider changing mascots

In May, the district ordered Native American-inspired mascots at six schools to be changed. One girl, however, wants to keep the old mascot.

TAMPA, Fla. — A 10-year-old girl on summer vacation stood before the Hillsborough County School Board on Tuesday and made a passionate plea for school district officials to reconsider a move to change some schools’ Native American mascots.

In May, the decision was made to change Native American-inspired mascots at six schools to something more inclusive. One of those mascots was the Brooker Elementary Brave.

“This petition is to keep the Brooker Braves name. We have had this mascot since 1961 and it should stay,” wrote Maggie Ramos on the synopsis of her online petition to keep the mascot. Ramos will be in the fifth grade at Brooker in the coming school year.

“The money it would cost to hire people and redo all the mascots around our school would amount to wasted time and money,” she goes on to say on the petition. “That money could be used to help improve the school, by buying technology or adding a new class. It is an honor to have our school named after the Native Americans. Please keep our name the Brooker Braves, for the ones who attended before us and those who will attend after us keeping the tradition, of the Braves alive.”

After garnering hundreds of signatures and comments online, Ramos said the responses have been overwhelmingly supportive.

“One that I remember, it said ‘Native American family, not offended in the least’,” she said. “Every other one said ‘I’m proud to be Native American’. No one has said ‘I’m offended’, it’s the complete opposite.”

More than one school board member opposed how the decision to change the mascots was made at Tuesday’s board meeting.

“This was NOT brought to the school board for a discussion and vote,” wrote Hillsborough County School Board Vice Chair Melissa Snively in an online statement. “This was an administrative decision that was made by the Superintendent and his staff, without input from the communities surrounding the schools affected or input from board members.”

The board voted unanimously to ask the district Superintendent to suspend all mascot discussions until the board has an opportunity to review the process of changing mascots within the district.

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