Paw Paw district moves mascot replacement process online

Southwest Michigan

PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — The search to select a new Paw Paw mascot and nickname has moved online because of coronavirus restrictions.

The school board voted at its March meeting to stop using the Redskins name and to find a replacement.

Corey Harbaugh, the director of curriculum and instruction, says the district has been working to move the process online during the stay-at-home order.

“The original design had lots of opportunity for both students and (the) community to be involved in person through class meetings, through assemblies for students, through forums and community events,” Harbaugh said.

Since measures designed to reduce the spread of the virus have limited gatherings, the district is trying to get as many people involved as possible.

“We’ve had to think creatively about how to get information out to students and community members and alumni,” Harbaugh said.

Paw Paw Public Schools has seen approximately 600 people submit ideas, resulting in 117 unique nicknames.

The ideas will be evaluated based on criteria created by a student taskforce.

“The idea that our nickname has to be inclusive, non-controversial. It has to instill a sense of pride in our students. They want it to be something that’s unique to Paw Paw,” Harbaugh said.

A Native American group is working with the district and has offered to help pay for many of the expenses associated with the name change.

“We’ve been consulting with the Native American Heritage Fund for that purpose and we have an application of the grant that they require for providing that financial support and we absolutely intend to fill that grant out,” Harbaugh said.

While some images of the old logo remain for now, the district says it is still on track to have them removed by the start of next school year.

“That work has begun but it has been slowed by the shutdown for sure,” Harbaugh said.

The deadline to submit ideas runs until April 24. Community members will vote to narrow down the ideas over a period of several weeks.

The committee hopes to have a final recommendation for the school board prepared sometime in June.

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