Some school districts in Northwest Indiana, including Lake Central, are talking of having a single unifying mascot for all their schools' teams. They're succeeding in drawing reactions.
Lake Central School Corp. launched the discussion of changing the mascot several months ago because of the construction at Lake Central High School and Protsman Elementary School.
"The purpose of the discussion is to establish a more collective vision of support and enthusiasm for all schools of the Lake Central School Corp.," high school principal Robin Tobias said.
The longtime mascot at the high school is the Indian, a common symbol for high schools. The Indian has changed over the years, becoming more culturally sensitive, but the fighting spirit hasn't changed.
The point of a mascot, after all, is to inspire fear in the hearts of opponents. What self-respecting athlete would want a mascot that exemplified rainbows and bunny rabbits?
An online petition at change.org urges Lake Central to keep the Indian mascot at the high school. Already, nearly 1,300 people have signed the petition.
Lake Central High School could keep the Indian mascot under a unified system if all the other schools in the district adopted the Indian mascot. But that isn't the best answer, either.
Having a separate mascot at each school builds unity within the school. And isn't that what mascots are all about? Let kids aspire to become an Indian, or whatever the mascot is for the high school they plan to attend. Give them something to work toward. Meanwhile, let them identify with others at their own school using that mascot.
Tobias said a unified mascot for all schools in the district would create "a unification of spirit, a shared vision and a shared identity."
While we don't see the need to do this -- it's akin to removing all the spices in a recipe and replacing them with vanilla -- we also don't see the need to remove the Indian mascot from Lake Central. Ask the stakeholders what they want, but don't be surprised if they prefer the status quo.