School board votes to retire Chamberlain High’s mascot

TAMPA, Fla. — Chamberlain High School in Tampa will retire its “Chiefs” mascot.

The decision comes despite some emotional testimony Tuesday night and an online petition that gathered more than 6,000 signatures. 

In a 5-to-1 vote, the Hillsborough County School Board decided to side with the Student Government Association, which suggested the change after consulting with Native American parents who called for the change.


What You Need To Know

  • School board votes to retire Chamberlain High’s “Chiefs” mascot
  • The Tampa school has had Chiefs as mascot since it opened in 1956
  • East Bay High will retain its “Indians” nickname
  • PREVIOUS STORY: “Chiefs” mascot may be history

Many alumni leaders opposed it, arguing Chiefs was a term of respect and not insulting.

Several of those alumni were at Tuesday’s meeting, while others protested outside the school board building.

Those in favor of the change say it’s important to listen to current students, while many against it say the school is erasing its history.

“My family has had three generations grace the halls of Chamberlain,” said one public speaker. “All proudly as Chiefs. Supposedly the alumni and community were part of this decision. We were not. We were canceled and buried.”

Several speakers pleaded with board member Henry Washington, a former Chamberlain principal.

However, he introduced the motion to change the mascot, saying it’s time for change.

 

Ahead of the vote, the current Chamberlain Principal Jake Russell addressed the board, trying to clear up some confusion about what changes will be made.

“The office wants to keep the tile and bronze mascot in the hall as a memory and a fact of what happened,” Russell said. “Because it was there and it happened and we have to honor that. The trophy case is not going anywhere.

“Now some of the signage on the building and things on the football field, those are things if we do change we would have to change.”

Tuesday’s vote only impacts Chamberlain.

The East Bay Indians used a similar process to see if a mascot change was needed, but decided against it.

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