Mascot Mania: Controversial Mascot Names to be Changed in West Hartford High Schools

As we approach June 7th, the deadline WHPS administration set for new names, questions are still left unanswered on the context, purpose, and practicality of the name change. Many students at Hall and Conard high school are left with a broad and watered-down explanation of the name change.


There are also several alumni and families of West Hartford Public Schools that oppose the mascot name change.  The Hall Warriors and the Conard Chieftains date back to 1957, when Conard High School was built.  Much history has been built on the basis of Warriors vs. Chieftains in West Hartford, and many are having a hard time turning the page.


Many are also making the argument that the “Warrior” in Hall High Warriors can be interpreted in many different ways.  Once Native American imagery was removed, the term warriors was up for interpretation by many.  Scott Zweig, in his Op-Ed “Shame on You”, states “to claim that the word “Warrior” is uniquely and inextricably linked to Native American culture or traditions is a fallacy.” He then argues, “the term “Warrior” has been used to describe brave and courageous fighters. Many believe the warrior name is represented with honor and has an inspiring message. Hall Warriors’ head football coach Franklin Robinson III says, “not once in my life did the name ‘Warriors’ ever come up as a negative thing.” Robinson grew up a hall student himself as he played football for his father, and he says he’s always thought the Hall population saw the warrior name as “positive” and “uplifting”. The idea that it is offensive to Native American culture is argued, and said that instead it is a tribute to Native American Culture.  


 Chief Velky of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation says so himself.  According to Scott Zweig’s, “Let the Native Americans Speak for Themselves”, Chief Velky has “ issued a resolution consents to the respectful use of Native American names, images, or symbols.” Chief Velky also stated, “these names serve to honor and respect the long-standing cultural traditions and contributions of Native Americans in this country.”

Upon entrance to the school, the mascot name is littered everywhere you look. (Sal Bakri)

One of the polls conducted at the high schools showed a great favor towards keeping the names. This is one example of the board’s lack of outreach towards the student body before initiating a hearing.


Meanwhile, for other students the name warrior isn’t a significant thing to begin with. When interviewed, Hall High student Lana Ghamo explained, “The name warrior doesn’t really mean anything.” She has no opinion on wether it should be changed or not, as most students who are not upset with the decision feel.


However, a failure of outreach has been evident in general. In December 2021, Glastonbury’s Board of Education voted to change the high school’s controversial team name and mascot. The abrupt swiftness of the change led to a physical altercation between a board member and a resident during a public hearing.

So what was the cause for this change? There are two ideas why that evidently still stand. One is an email that was received by Board member Ari Steinberg.

The email was composed by a conard high school student. Pointing out another student who was dissatisfied with the name. “This is a student who walks into school with the word Chieftain ‘plastered over my head,’ ” Steinberg quoted from the email. He claimed that “If the nickname hurts one person, they should change it.”

The other idea is that West Hartford is simply just aligning with the other municipalities in Connecticut. Name changes are occurring now and fast. If the town were to be one of the only places that still use names relating to Native Americans, then all eyes would be on them.

Entrance Sign off of North Main
Where will the funding come from to replace all of the remains of the Warrior? (Alexander Ciafone)



A major fund for the state of Connecticut, The Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Fund, distributes grants to the towns and cities of CT. According to the state’s 2021 Public Act 21-2, these grants will not be given to schools that “use logos and names associated with a state or federally recognized Native American tribe or individual.” 

West Hartford receives $27,820 annually from this grant. Before 2019, West Hartford was receiving about $200,000. The dramatic decline has no correlation with the mascots, but it signals that the already-diminishing fund is likely not the sole reason for the name change.

The board members in support of the change had main arguments that the names could be considered disrespectful and new ones could help bring people together.

The grand expense to replace the equipment with the name “Warrior” and “Chieftain” is another large concern of many.  From Sports equipment, to the high school’s turf fields, to basketball courts, and even to name tags and signs throughout the school, the expense to replace will be far from cheap. 

Baseball Jersey from the 2022 team
Sports jerseys and apparel will be quickly out of style as we move past the era of the Warrior. (Will Gaumer)



There is still hope for the student body on the inevitable mascot change. Principal Dan Zuitonn Has allowed students to come up with a large list of names that embody the community at Hall High school. For the past few weeks that list has been slowly shortened down from students voting on these names. Joe Dooley, a strong leader in the Hall community as well as Baseball and Basketball senior captain, spoke on this, “I like the name “Titans” a lot. Not only do I think it sounds cool, but I also think that it portrays that same mentality of staying strong and being determined.”