June 24, 2024

WEST HARTFORD — The Board Of Education voted Tuesday night to change the high school nicknames of the Hall Warriors and Conard Chieftains.

Both high schools will create committees consisting of school administrators, teachers, employees, students, parents and members of the school communities that will work to come up with new nicknames by June 7.

The decision comes seven years after the board voted to keep the names but remove the Native American imagery associated with them.

The move also coincides with Public Act 21-2 that the state legislature passed in June, which would deny any funding from the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Fund to any school that uses “any name, symbol or image that depicts, refers to or is associated with a state or federally recognized Native American tribe or a Native American individual, custom or tradition, as a mascot, nickname, logo or team name.”

West Hartford stands to receive nearly $28,000 from that fund.

But those who voted to change the name said that wasn’t their only motive.

Board member Ari Steinberg, citing an email from a Conard High School student, said that if the nickname hurts one person that they should change it.

“This is a student who walks into school with the word Chieftain ‘plastered over my head,’ ” Steinberg said, quoting the email. “She goes into a school with a name that she does not feel comfortable with. If it hurts even one student, we are not doing our job. We are not doing our due diligence.”

There was much debate during the meeting, from both members of the public and board members themselves, about the definitions of the words chieftain and warrior.