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Lane Tech Mascot Process Stalls As School Struggles To Review Hundreds Of Submissions

Lane Tech voted last year to stop using the school's longtime symbol of a Native American man wearing a feathered headdress. But school leaders need help narrowing down more than 1,000 new ideas.

The school’s inner courtyard has a sculpture of a Native American man created by artist John Szaton in 1947.
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NORTH CENTER — More than a year after voting to remove Lane Tech College Prep’s longtime “Indian” symbol, the school council is still sorting through hundreds of suggestions for a potential replacement, making it unclear when a new mascot could be adopted. 

Lane’s advisory council unanimously agreed in August 2020 to stop using the symbol featuring a Native American man wearing a feathered headdress. After consulting with Chicago Public Schools leadership, school officials launched a process for removing it, and created a committee of students, faculty, staff, administrators and district officials.

Students, parents and alumni submitted over 1,000 ideas for a new symbol via an online survey in May, some of which included “long soliloquies,” council chairperson Emily Haite said at a Thursday meeting.

Other submissions were duplicates and included ideas like a comet, a bison, a hexagon or just using the letters “LT.” Haite has been organizing them for the council since the summer but said she needs help sorting through them for the next phase of the selection process. 

CPS officials advised that the council should let the students decide on school’s new symbol, but council members thought there should be some additional steps to review submissions before allowing the student body to weigh in, Haite said.

But finding volunteers has been difficult. Lane Tech promoted Edwina Thompson from assistant principal to principal, meaning she no longer can be part of the committee. There’s also been other turnover with the school council.

“Students have either graduated or don’t want to participate and Ms. Thompson is now our principal and can’t participate,” Haite said. “And the teacher who was on the committee is too busy. That’s why we don’t have a committee right now.”

The committee will help Haite narrow down the submissions to 15, which will then go back out to students, parents and alumni to vote on. The top three symbols from that round of voting will then be presented to current students for a vote. 

“The process has been determined and you have all the survey’s responses,” said Anne Lokken, a Lane parent and council member. “There’s not a whole lot of committee work left to be done. It’s just a matter of getting the next survey out.”

The effort to change Lane’s symbol was spearheaded by recent alumni and then-current students who said using the “Indian” name and related imagery in the school’s symbolism and as a mascot was “wrong and racist” to Native Americans. 

The council’s vote came after a renewed their push to get rid of the school’s “Indian” symbols in the wake of protests against systemic racism last summer. 

“The goal is to make sure that we can bring some finality to this,” Thompson said. 

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