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Town will fight for 'Warriors'

February 27, 2002|BY TARA REILLY

Kelly Mills proudly drives around with the face of a warrior on her car.

The Boonsboro High School senior said that despite claims from a Kensington, Md., man that her school's nickname, Warriors, is offensive, she doesn't plan to remove the sticker.

Richard Regan, a Lumbee Indian, has asked the Washington County Board of Education to stop using American Indian nicknames and mascots for schools. The county has another school that uses an American Indian nickname, the Conococheague Indians.

Regan said last week that the names and mascots demean and mock American Indian culture and trample upon American Indian tradition.

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Mills, 16, said changing Boonsboro's nickname would be like changing an NFL team's nickname or mascot because it's "too ferocious of an animal" or changing the name of a street because somebody doesn't like it.

"It was very distressing to hear that somebody had a problem with something that's been a part of our history for a long time," Mills said. "My parents were both (Boonsboro) Warriors. To change that now, it doesn't make any sense."

Others in the Boonsboro community shares Mills' sentiments.

Junior Lindsey Avara, 16, said the issue is a hot topic among students and some teachers.

"Everyone feels like it's not (Regan's) business or right to be telling us what we can call our mascot," Avara said. "It's something we look up to. Why would we say, 'Go Warriors' if we thought it was something bad?"

Avara said that there are many students of American Indian descent in the school who are not offended by the name. Avara, treasurer of the student council, said the council probably will write a letter to the editor in support of keeping the name.

The School Board may consider discussing Regan's concerns, but a decision has not been made.

Sandra Keeney, who used to live in Boonsboro and who is part Blackfoot Indian, said she believes using the Warriors name brings honor and recognition to American Indians.

"There should be more of it," said Keeney, who now lives in Sharpsburg. "It's ridiculous for someone to want to stop the recognition American Indians can get."

Boonsboro Mayor Charles "Skip" Kauffman said he's heard from many town residents about the issue, none of whom supported changing the name.

"I would hope that the School Board not even take up that issue," Kauffman said.

Kauffman, who said he played sports for Boonsboro High School in the late 1960s, said he's proud of the school's name and mascot.

"I'm still a Warrior," he said. "Once a Warrior, always a Warrior."

His wife, Cindy, said the school's slogan is "Warrior pride," and that the Boonsboro community respects it.

"Native Americans should feel proud that people want to name things after them," Cindy Kauffman said.

Charles Kauffman said the town will fight to keep the name.

"If it offends someone, they'll have to get over it," Kauffman said. "Our intentions are pure and good. We're going to stand up for our mascot."

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