The Braves Debate: An Update

Full disclosure — Jean R. Pateman has an opinion on the Braves mascot issue.  In fact, she was one of the 23 people who spoke about the mascot at the Oct. 8 school board meeting.  She has also already written on this topic (see Home of the Braves?).  This article, however, avoids taking a stance on the issue and is intended to inform the community on what is currently going on with the Braves debate.

OXFORD — Talawanda High School’s ongoing controversy has heated up once more. With debates on Facebook, in school board meetings, and on the comment section of Journal News, the Talawanda community knows little as of now, except that a whole lot of people have a whole lot of opinions. As a matter of fact, since Feb. 2018, there have been 74 times that someone has spoken at a board meeting during public comment, and out of those 74 times, 48 were in reference to the mascot.

A few months ago the new superintendent, Ed Theroux, created a branding committee to reevaluate the Talawanda Braves mascot. This committee has met on Sept. 10, 24, and Oct. 8. The committee is currently in the process of creating a presentation to discuss with the board. The duty of the committee is not to decide whether or not the school keeps the mascot, but only to evaluate and present their findings to the board. The committee’s research should influence the board’s decision on whether or not they are changing the mascot.

“I encourage people to come to all Board of Education meetings and stay for the entire meetings. Often, there are comments and reports towards the end of the meetings that often explain what is happening in the district,” Superintendent Theroux said. The superintendent was not the only one to notice the large numbers of people leaving after the mascot discussion at the last school board meeting. Science Teacher Scott Schmid said that he noticed many students and parents leaving after public comment. Schmid noted that as people left the board went into a discussion about graduation requirements, a topic important to both students and parents.

A lot of talk around the financial issue about changing the mascot has been solved, as Adidas has announced that they would be willing to offer their design services to help rebrand any high school wanting to change mascots. Not only that, but their charity extends to financial assistance to ensure that any high school wanting to change is not prohibited by cost restrictions.

The next board meeting takes place on Nov. 19 in the Performing Arts Center at Talawanda High School and the Branding Committee will present their findings.  You can even take Superintendent Theroux’s advice and stay for the entire meeting.