Barker seeks community input for new school mascot

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 July 2023 at 10:29 am

State requiring school to drop Raiders; Students suggest either Bandits, Bulldogs or Bucks

BARKER – The school district won’t be keeping the Raiders as a mascot after being notified it no longer meets state regulations against use of indigenous names and mascots.

The Board of Regents adopted the new regulations on April 18 and they took effect on May 3. Barker was notified by the state it needed to make a change.

The district has begun the process of picking a new mascot and logo. The district sought student and staff input and received more than 100 different ideas, district superintendent Dr. Jacob L. Reimer wrote to the community on July 11.

The district narrowed the most common suggestions to nine, and then asked students in a survey to pick among those names. That has been narrowed to the three most popular choices: Bandits, Bulldogs, and Bucks.

The district is now asking the community to weigh in on the three names in an online survey that is available until Aug. 4. Click here to take the survey, which also gives an option to submit a another name for a mascot.

“We know that changing our name and mascot is a difficult decision, but we will always be Barker at heart,” Reimer wrote in his letter. “Our goal through this process is to continue reinforcing the bonds we have as a school and larger community. With our upcoming capital project and the changes occurring around our campus, we have an opportunity to take our little slice of paradise here in Barker and make it stronger than it has ever been.”

One nearby college changed its mascot from Raiders about a decade ago. Roberts Wesleyan College dropped the Raiders and became the Redhawks. The college has someone wear a redhawk costume as Reggie the Redhawk at many athletic events.

The state Education Department said the new regs were instituted after many indigenous peoples said mascots have been used without the express consent of such peoples. And that is contrary to the requirements of the regulation and New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act.

The state Education Department in Regulation Part 123 includes a quote from Ronald F. Levant, EdD, former president of the American Psychological Association.

“The use of American Indian mascots as symbols in schools and university athletic programs is particularly troubling because schools are places of learning,” Levant said. “These mascots are teaching stereotypical, misleading and too often, insulting images of American Indians. These negative lessons are not just affecting American Indian students; they are sending the wrong message to all students.”