Students at Radnor High School walk out in protest over school mascot

RADNOR TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- At 10 a.m. Monday, a group of students could be seen leaving Radnor High School.

The large collective, most with signs in hand, slowly made their way into an open field as part of a peaceful, school-sanctioned demonstration against the school's rebranding.

"The school should be allowing this to happen," said parent Mark Dressel.

The rebranding debate is largely centered on the Radnor Raider nickname.

The name, with more than 70 years of history, was officially retired along with all related Native American imagery from the School District in September 2020 to "foster a fully inclusive community."

"Kids, families, the community, we're being divided," Dressel added.

While most stakeholders agree the imagery needed to go, many, including students, are fighting to keep the Raider name without the imagery.

"After the year we've all had, this is just another thing that we've lost," said sophomore Cackie Martin.

Others believe it's right to be retired.

"It's not something that we can just erase. And in addition, I've spoken with Native American members of our community who feel harmed and attacked by the name Raiders," said junior Reese Hillman.

Some students supporting the name say they've been attacked online, and in some cases, going as far as being labeled white supremacists.

"Yeah, it's definitely weird having people look at me that way, but it's fighting for something you want, you know?" said freshman Allie Engle.

"People are turning it into a political issue. I don't think that this is a political issue, I don't think that it ever has been a political issue," added senior Scott Belveal.

More debate has followed the selection of a suitable new nickname.

A list of 56 names has been whittled down to eight for more feedback from a committee and focus groups involved in the process.

Those calling for change said they understand the tension, but hope some agreement can be found.

"We all have this common goal of wanting to do what's best for our school. I just think the best way for our school to move forward is to completely distance ourselves from his past that has been so harmful," said Hillman.

The school board will meet Tuesday and a final decision on the nickname is expected sometime in June.
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