By Holly Crocco
Mahopac Central School District’s new mascot name was debuted at the May 18 school board meeting, when student representatives from the committee tasked with overseeing the selection process announced that the new name will be… the Mahopac Wolf Pac.
In November, the State Education Department declared that districts need to eliminate any mascots, logos and imagery that refers to Native Americans, as that was deemed by Albany to be offensive.
Local school boards are required to adopt their plans to do so by the end of this school year.
At the May 18 meeting, students Ava Van Nortwick, Sophia Butironi, Daniel Walk and Lexi Butironi explained that the committee’s objective over the past month was to select a new mascot that embodies the Mahopac spirit, provides school district recognition and invokes pride and enthusiasm.
The committee was made up of high school and middle school students; staff including the athletic director, coaches and representatives from the district’s bargaining units; alumni; and community members including Parent-Teacher Organization and Mahopac Sports Association representatives, Carmel Historical Society members, and members of the community-at-large.
Throughout the selection process, the committee considered what draws people to Mahopac, the district’s strengths, its “personality,” and what impression outsiders may think of when they think of Mahopac. The committee sought to select a mascot that embodies the values, characteristics and history of Mahopac.
While 30 mascot ideas were shared, subgroups were tasked with each coming up with their top three choices, and the total pool of mascot names was narrowed down to 12. The committee then voted for their top choices, with the top three being the Mavericks, Mustangs and Wolf Pac.
Those choices were put to a vote by students in kindergarten through 12th grade, with the Mahopac Wolf Pac getting the most votes.
The committee will reassemble this month to discuss logo ideas, and administrators will finalize a plan and timeline for districtwide changes for inclusion of the new name and logo. The board of education is scheduled to vote on adoption of the new mascot and transition plan at its June 15 meeting.
The edict by the State Education Department forces more than 50 districts across the state to remove and replace their school mascots and logos, or at least have a plan of action to do so, by the end of the 2024-25 school year. No financial aid from the state will be provided to help districts make the transition.
Assemblyman Matt Slater, R-Yorktown, claimed in April that changing the mascot and the accompanying logo on all facilities, clothing, vehicles and elsewhere throughout the district will cost an estimated half-a-million dollars.