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Port Townsend High School retires controversial mascot

The Port Townsend School Board voted unanimously Monday night to retire "Redskins" as a team name and mascot for the high school. (Image courtesy the Port Townsend High School Facebook page)

An 80-year tradition in Port Townsend has come to an end.

The Port Townsend School Board voted unanimously Monday night to retire "Redskins" as a team name and mascot for the high school.

The board followed the recommendation of a study group that said the name should be retired with honor.

Students and many alumni at the meeting said the name was a symbol of pride. Nearly 300 people in attendance favored keeping the name.

The Peninsula Daily News reports some in the crowd yelled Redskins cheers after the vote.

A few in the crowd did side with the board saying the mascot showed disrespect for the Native American community.

Board member Ann Burkhart said the name was not intentionally disrespectful to Native Americans, but a divisive symbol doesn't help students.

School Board President Jennifer James Wilson acknowledged that the Redskins mascot is part of local identity, but said that students and community members who find the mascot offensive feel at odds with their community.

"A lot of energy has been spent over the last 20-25 years defending the use of that name, and trying to encase it in a spirit of pride and nobility," said Wilson.

The school board decided it was important to teach future generations respect and sensitivity, and voted unanimously to drop the Redskins name.

"We would also like there to be a process set in motion for a formal retirement ceremony of the Redskin name," said Wilson.

Students and community members will select a new mascot for the Port Townsend High School.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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