It might not be the answer many people were hoping for, but on Wednesday night the USD 383 board of education voted unanimously to retain the Indian mascot at Manhattan High School. After an hour and a half of commentary and deliberation, a motion was adopted to create a committee at the beginning of the new year. This committee will be comprised of student and community leaders from multiple perspectives and will function under four premises including finding ways to honor Frank Prentup, investigating a possible new mascot for the high school, enriching the current Native American heritage curriculum at MHS, and calculating the actual costs associated by a mascot change. This committee will be formed in January 2017, and will report back to the board next September.

A public input forum on Nov. 30 kept board members silent as they listened to the opinions of students, alumni, and community members. Those groups of people were on the other end of the conversation last night in an unusually full Robinson Education Center.

The levity of the conversation was clear in the voices of USD 383’s elected officials. Board members called for unity and understanding following a year full of discourse all the way from the Little Apple to Washington D.C. Dave Colburn commended attendees of the Nov. 30 forum, saying the citizens of Manhattan and students of MHS properly executed the democratic process in a professional and diplomatic way throughout the five-and-a-half hour discourse.

Board members Pat Hudgins and Leah Fliter were the only two members who were outwardly in favor of changing the mascot at last night’s meeting. Hudgins cited her experiences as a black woman and encouraged people to see “there is something in a name,” and said MHS needs to be “a space where all can learn.”

Aaron Estabrook echoed the sentiments of Colburn when he suggested the motion involving a committee. Tensions did rise at points when Curt Herman emphasized the importance of committee with a clear timeline and set goals. Shortly after 8:15, the board took their vote and the audience dispersed in an array of different emotions.

In new business, the board heard about new courses coming to Manhattan High School next fall, approved the purchase of replacement iPads, and also heard bids for a drainage project at Northview Elementary and the Keith Noll Maintenance Center. The board will convene again on Dec. 14 for a special legislative meeting where they will provide input on school funding plans during the January session.

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