The dynamic of the Lancaster School Board officially changed Monday night.
What seemed like it would be a calm transition to swear in two staunch supporters of the “Redskins” mascot for the school’s athletic teams turned into shouting among the audience.
It was obvious that the retired nickname will not go away. If anything, it continues to haunt the five board members still on the board who voted to scrap it in favor of the student-chosen Lancaster “Legends” mascot.
And now with Redskins supporters Brenda Christopher and Kelly Hughes Depczynski on the School Board, the board is largely expected to be a 5-2 voting bloc. Many who welcomed the two new members wore “Change It Back” T-shirts to the board’s reorganization and business meeting Monday in the Court Street Elementary School.
They believe the name “Legends” should be changed back to “Redskins,” which some Native Americans consider to be offensive.
The discussion began Monday when former board member Wendy Buchert, who is part Native American and lost her re-election bid in May and had voted to retire the old mascot, challenged Christopher to explain what she has meant by referring to Legends as being a “temporary” mascot.
Christopher responded by insisting Redskins is a nickname and not a mascot. “It’s up to this community,” Christopher said. “If this community wants this name back, we will look into it.”
If not, Christopher said the board will move on. “We made the change for one reason – to be heard,” she said.
People on both sides of the issue started shouting at one another in the audience. But one man shouted to Buchert: “You’re a poor loser.”
Once again, the nastiness that followed the mascot switch reared up and showed no sign of letting up, but the board took no action Monday on the matter.
Even during the July 4 weekend festivities in the village, the Friends of Lancaster Redskins had a float in the parade and sponsored a booth that sold “Change It Back” gear, including T-shirts.
The group had a life-sized gray-colored knight standing by its booth dressed with a “Change It Back” T-shirt. There also was a Redskin-themed bean bag game.
Both Christopher and Depczynski were seen at the booth and have previously been featured on an Internet-based radio program in which they have said they want the school mascot changed back to Redskins.
At one point during Monday’s meeting, Christopher said: “The people have finally been heard.”
Newly appointed Board President Patrick Uhteg tried to instill a respectful manner and calm the tension.
“There’s no need for this yelling back and forth,” he said.
Board Vice President William Gallagher agreed. “Nobody is hearing what anyone is saying,” he said.
Afterward, Depczynski was adamant about her support of the old mascot. Asked if there was a real chance of bringing it back, she replied: “Absolutely.”