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What’s in a name? Hanover High council debates what being a Marauder means

  • Hanover's Rowan Wilson moves down the ice during its game with Bow in West Lebanon, N.H., on Dec. 15, 2018. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • A lost face mask sits at center field during Hanover High School girls soccer practice in Hanover, N.H., Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Bishop Guertin's Ben Young tries to maneuver away from Hanover's Matty Gardner (19) and Elias Zinman during the Division I semifinal in Manchester, N.H., on March 8, 2018. Hanover won, 3-2. (Nashua Telegraph - Tom King)

  • Hanover High's Cameron Woods, right, and Jack Stadheim watch the referee for an indication of an upcoming faceoff's location at Thompson Arena on Sunday. The Marauders improved to 2-0 with a 12-0 defeat of Manchester Central-West. (Tris Wykes - Valley News) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. » Buy this Image

  • Photographed in West Lebanon, N.H., on May 31, 2019, Hanover High junior Charlie Adams is one of the Valley News Athletes of the Year. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Volunteer coach Daniel Hazlett, left, talks with Hanover midfielder Eric Ringer, right, during half time of the Marauders’ game with Lebanon in Hanover, N.H., Saturday, Sept. 19, 2020. Hazlett is a 2014 Hanover alum. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Hanover High's Charlie Adams (10) acknowledges his introduction prior to an NHIAA Division I boys soccer with Manchester Central at Exeter High's Bill Ball Stadium on Oct. 31, 2018. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ryan Gardner gathers his Marauders lacrosse team at the close of practice in Hanover, N.H. Wednesday, April 1, 2015. The team's season will begin April 13 with a game against Champlain Valley Union after a scrimmage Saturday, April 4. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Copyright © Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/19/2020 9:37:09 PM
Modified: 12/19/2020 9:40:18 PM

Mack Levy never thought twice about it.

To him, the Hanover High mascot has always been a sign of validation and status. Levy, who is a two-sport athlete, remembers growing up in the Dresden School District and looking up to those who were able to wear the maroon and white uniforms with the pirate Marauder logo stitched on.

He isn’t thinking so highly of the moniker lately. As a representative of the class of 2023 on the school’s council, Levy’s been part of an ongoing conversation this fall about what the Marauder stands for and if it’s something that is worthy of being Hanover’s school logo.

“I thought it was this funny pirate guy,” he said. “Now I look at it from a different angle.”

And to many, that is what the Marauder is. He’s the Blackbeard-look-alike figure on the turf at Merriman-Branch Field.

The idea to revise the Marauder started to gain attention last spring when the council looked back to its formation and changes made in the school since then.

Hanover’s council operates differently than a traditional student council; it has authority to act on all matters at the school which are not controlled by school board policy, state law and administrative regulations. It also controls the content and publication of the student handbook.

The discussion around the symbol was brought up again this fall, but this time the conversations shifted to the word’s definition. The origin of Marauder derives from the Middle French word “maraud,” meaning rascal. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary says that a marauder is “one who roams from place to place making attacks and raids in search of plunder.”

Yet for some members of the council, “maraud” means to rape and pillage. Articles in the media recently have associated the word marauder with rape and murder, such as a story from this summer on azcentral.com about fake social media posts inciting fear of suburban marauders.

Current Hanover students and alumni also came forward this summer on an Instagram account, titled HHS.Survivors, to tell stories of sexual violence they experienced during their time at the school. The accounts brought to light a culture of sexual violence that the council does not want the Marauder mascot to foster.

Others have suggested that the Marauder image depicts a man, giving way to a male-first narrative. This, coupled with those who don’t want to see the figure wiped out, has made for a full slate of discussions this academic year in the council’s weekly Zoom meetings.

“It was something we had never thought about as athletes, as a school,” said Sage McGinley-Smith, the council’s moderator and a two-sport athlete at Hanover. “It hadn’t been a conversation, really. There have been people who have had concerns for a while, but it really hasn’t been a discussion until more recently in our broader community.”

The focus on the Marauder comes after years of discussions surrounding Native American mascots. Just last week, the Cleveland Indians decided to change their team name after years of protests.

George Floyd’s death this summer brought protests that concentrated on systematic racism and oppression against Black people, but the dialogue expanded to other races and issues, including what a mascot is, the appropriateness of the imagery and what it stands for.

In a statement released this summer, the Vermont Principals Association encouraged schools to replace mascots that do not represent all students. “Any mascot, nickname, symbol or logo that has marginalizing, racist or exclusionary elements should be replaced,” it reads.

Rutland High decided in late October to move away from the Raider mascot and name, which originated in the 1930s and started as the Red Raiders. Oxbow had to fight the USOC to retain the Olympians moniker in recent years.

The New Hampshire Board of Education passed a resolution in 2002 that endorsed the elimination of Native American mascots in sports.

At Dedham High in Massachusetts, the school weighed what the word Marauder means to them as a mascot back in 2015. Ultimately, the name was kept but the image was changed from an open-mouthed Native American with crazed eyes to the word “Marauders.”

Hanover’s neighbor and archrival has set the precedent for how to approach changing a mascot.

During the late 1990s and early 2000s, Lebanon debated what it should do with the high school’s Raider mascot, a fictitious Native American character named Agamek.

As former Valley News staff writer Kristina Eddy wrote in December 2000, the image was a “head-and-shoulders portrait of an American Indian man with braided black hair hanging over his right shoulder. He is not wearing a shirt. He wears a reddish-brown headband trailing two brown and white feathers. The word ‘Raiders’ is inscribed under the picture.”

The town’s school board opted to appoint a committee to gather opinions on Agamek, who was first officially used in 1965 when the name of the yearbook was changed from the Parrot to Agamek, and an American Indian was placed on the cover.

On March 28, 2001, the Lebanon School Board voted, 7-2, to continue calling Lebanon athletic teams the Raiders but to stop using Agamek as a symbol.

“People are very passionate about Agamek, especially the older generation that had Agamek as their mascot,” recalls Denise Shibles, who was the president of the Lebanon High Alumni Association at the time and who sat on the committee. “The committee did very well; they created a contest to allow the students to have a major voice in the creation of the next mascot because the students were going to have to live with what was decided.

“If it was being offensive to anyone, it needed to change. The intention wasn’t to be offensive, but if some people were taking it that way, something needed to change.”

The bird logo that is in use today was adopted in 2005 after a drawing of a Viking was originally used in 2001.

Shibles is now the secretary of the alumni association, which still uses Agamek as its logo and sells apparel with the Indian stitched on. She said the alums don’t plan on moving to change their moniker.

Lebanon principal Ian Smith wrote in an email this week that in his six years at Lebanon, he’s heard of no conversations to move away from the current mascot or word Raiders. He did point out that Lebanon has adopted the block “L” on stationary, team and co-curricular clothing.

McGinley-Smith now has the job of navigating her council through continued discussions of the Marauder mascot. Students and faculty at Hanover filled out a survey in October to understand how people feel about the figure and the possibility of making a change.

Since then, break-out sessions have started in advisory groups to gauge students interest and opinion in the alteration. 

“They are doing a pretty comprehensive process; we are going to see where it goes,” Hanover principal Jim Logan said in a phone interview. “This was originated from the council; this had nothing to do with administration or staff. I think the big piece from an administration standpoint is if it does go through, what the cost is going to be. I would think it would have to be phased in over a period of years, because it will have a big budget impact.”

The Marauder is under council’s purview, but it would eventually need the approval of the school board for access to funds for redesigned uniforms and school facilities.

Hanover has some precedent from moving away from the Marauder, too. Back in 1986, the council passed a motion to have have the Three-Toed Sloths be the school’s mascot. That motion only lasted a week until it was reversed, but it provides some evidence that the change could happen.

Jay Badams, the superintendent of schools for the Hanover, Dresden, and Norwich School Districts, said the council has the right to adress the mascot. 

As for the timeline of when changes could actually be made, the council and McGinley-Smith are still sorting this out.

No serious names have been discussed, but some are interested in going back to the three-toed sloth. Others have said the school should honor a figure in Hanover history.

“I think a big part of changing this is the question of what do we even change this to?” McGinley-Smith said. “Like, what’s the alternative? Because its just as important of getting rid of the old one is having people accept and like the new one.”

Pete Nakos can be reached at pnakos@vnews.com.




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