- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 30, 2001

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The gym floor will have to be changed, new uniforms bought for athletic teams and new chants written for the cheerleaders.
But as Poolesville High School prepares to change its nickname from "Indians" to "Falcons" to conform with a decision by the Montgomery County school board, some in the rural town are mourning the break with tradition.
"We're not Falcons, we're Indians," said sophomore Sam Lynch, 15, a junior-varsity cheerleader. "I'm not sure I want to be a cheerleader next year because I don't want to cheer for the Falcons."
Poolesville has been at the center of a heated debate statewide over the use of American Indian-related names for school mascots.
Maryland's Commission on Indian Affairs, a quasi-independent board appointed by the governor, is seeking to end the use of Indian mascots by schools and athletic teams, saying they are offensive and discriminatory.
The commission said about 30 schools in a dozen Maryland systems have Indian names. Some, including schools in Baltimore and in Charles, Prince George's, St. Mary's and Talbot counties, are considering changes. But schools in Cecil and Harford counties have rejected calls for new names.
Montgomery's school board voted this summer to ban Indian mascots, forcing Poolesville to make the change. The school voted this month to adopt "Falcons," beginning with the 2002-2003 school year. The switch will cost at least $80,000.
"It's been a very emotional time for a lot of students and people in the community, because this is a place where you have two and three generations who are all graduates of Poolesville," said Principal Mark E. Levine.
"I think the students have shown a remarkable level of maturity and by next fall, we'll be ready to become the Falcons."
Not everyone is so ready.
Some town residents are pondering a legal challenge to the school board decision.
Town leaders say they won't repaint the water tower that looms over the athletic fields and reads "Go Indians" in large block letters.
"The water tank belongs to Poolesville, and we're going to decide our own destiny," said Commissioner Jerry Klobukowski.
The school held two community meetings on the issue, and 60 percent of students voted in favor of keeping the Indians nickname.
Some students said the school board decision ignored their wishes.
"It was like there wasn't any point in our voting," said sophomore Josh Funk, 15, a junior-varsity basketball player. "We voted, but it doesn't seem to matter."
Richard Regan, the outspoken Indian Affairs Commission member who had led the push for nickname changes, said the decisions should not be put to community votes.
"If it's offensive, it's offensive," Mr. Regan said. "It shouldn't be up to the community to decide to keep something that is offensive."

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