Rival West Hartford high schools unite under one cause

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WEST HARTFORD -- The Chieftain and the Warrior may soon become relics of history if some in the community successfully lobby the Board of Education to change the mascot names from Conard and Hall high schools.

The Conard Chieftains and the Hall Warriors have been around for nearly a century and those fighting to keep the mascots say they're not offensive--in fact, they're the opposite.

"The Chieftain is a leader," said Dillon Forstberg, a Conard sophomore. "The Chieftain is somebody who goes and lives life with respect and honor and treats other people how they want to be treated and that's how I want to do things."

Those who believe the mascot is offensive don't agree. "Representation is everything,"  said Rachel Yousman, a Conard senior. "The way it's being represented is very stereotypical and negative, like a savage image, and they're human beings."

Scores of parents packed into the auditorium at West Hartford Town Hall Thursday night to discuss the issue in a public forum. The Board of Education didn't make any decisions yet, but is planning to by the end of this school year.

"It's a big deal in the sense that it's a part of a larger conversation about rights of others and minority rights," said Mark Overmyer-Velazquez, chairman of the West Hartford Board of Education. "And understanding what diversity means as being part of our own community in West Hartford."