Penn Hills School District looking for public input amid possible mascot change

PITTSBURGH — The Penn Hills School District is looking for input about possibly changing their Indian mascot and doing away with related imagery including spears.

“I do think it should be changed because it is disrespectful,” said Penn Hills High School Student Marquese Alston.

For years, the district’s Indian mascot has faced controversy.

Lately, a handful of professional sports teams have switched gears, like the Cleveland Indians, now, the Cleveland Guardians.

The district is currently asking for the community and alumni to chime in on why their mascot name should stay the same or change.

“The thing that we tend to overlook is the ideology and the lineage behind these things and what they might represent,” said Darius Battles. “A change could be either beneficial or detrimental given the reasons behind why they want it to change or what other people might view as controversial.”

According to the school district, a group of student leaders from PHHS have made several name suggestions include: Big Red, Panthers, Phoenix, Pride, Redhawks and Red Storm.

“I feel like it’s not much of a change if we’re to name it those because it’s the same thing,” said Alston.

The meeting will be held April 13 at 6 p.m. in the Penn Hills Elementary cafeteria. Each speaker will have 3 minutes to make their case.

“I think the topic feels ‘difficult,’ because decision makers understand and respect the sense of strength and courage associated with the name and imagery, and it’s those shared ideals that have contributed to our sense of community pride. No one wants to promote an ‘Old’ versus ‘New’ Penn Hills, but many are now coming to understand that retention of that name and imagery is contradictory to our commitment to equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging for all,” Superintendent Dr. Nancy Hines told Channel 11 in a statement.

If you can’t join on April 13, the event will be live-streamed on the PHSD website.

If you’d like to submit your thoughts about a possible name change, please email the district’s Board Secretary, Nakita LaPrade at nlapra@phsd.k12.pa.us. Please indicate MASCOT as the subject of your email.