Hart High students, staff to vote on new mascot next week 

The Hart High School mural that was commissioned after a 2021 decision to change the school's mascot. Photo courtesy of Jason d’Autremont.
The Hart High School mural that was commissioned after a 2021 decision to change the school's mascot. Photo courtesy of Jason d’Autremont.
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Hart High School students and staff will be voting on the new school mascot beginning on Monday and running through the end of next week, according to Principal Jason D’Autremont. 

Each current student and staff member will get one vote through a secure voting system via the school’s Associated Student Body, D’Autremont said. The two options are the Hawks and the Bison. 

D’Autremont said the plan is to have the majority-vote winner be announced at the school’s open house on March 19. Logos and other associated artwork will be worked on after that announcement.  

Nominations for the mascot were submitted by students, staff and parents and went to the ASB before the two finalists were announced via an email sent out on Friday. 

The Indians mascot was voted out as the school’s mascot by the William S. Hart Union High School District governing board in 2021 after a petition received more than 18,000 signatures. The board cited a need to move away from a race-based symbol that the school has been associated with since Jan. 10, 1946. 

Recently, a new petition to reverse that decision was started on change.org that has received more than 2,100 signatures as of Friday afternoon. Titled “Preserve the Indian of Hart High School,” the petition states the “mascot has been a beacon for students past and present — a symbol that binds us together in shared experiences and memories. Changing this would mean erasing an integral part of what makes us who we are as a community.” 

George Saldivar, a parent of two children in the Hart district, spoke at a governing board meeting earlier this month in favor of keeping the Indians mascot. He said the things that were promised — a mural depicting the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians and other natives as well as a cultural center — have not been delivered. 

That mural was unveiled last year and shows a nature scene with a river, grass fields, flowers, a bear and a hawk. Saldivar said this is not enough. 

“Unfortunately, this mural does the exact opposite,” George said. “It doesn’t show them; it actually erases them.” 

At Wednesday’s governing board meeting, Mark Villaseñor, vice president of the Tataviam tribe, said the mural was worked on with input from Tataviam leaders. He and governing board President Linda Storli visited the mural earlier this month with D’Autremont, with both Storli and Villaseñor saying the mural represents what it needs to. 

Storli said the cultural center does not have a home at the Hart campus as of now due to some moving parts. 

“They’re thinking about redoing the library and they’re thinking about using different buildings for different things,” Storli said. “So right now, it was just an impractical time to do a cultural center.” 

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