New Gar-Field Mascot
Posted on 03/15/2021

March 15, 2021

Dear Gar-Field High School Community,

We are all very fortunate to be part of the Gar-Field High School community, which has a long and storied history, as well as many dedicated alumni and students who are very proud of their school. Over the years, many cherished traditions have developed as each class of Gar-Field graduates has left their mark on the school and community. Traditions include the development of the “Big Red” slogan in the 1980s and the “School of Champions” motto since the early 1990s.

Another part of our school history is the mascot. The “Indians” mascot originated at Occoquan District High School and was transferred to Gar-Field when it opened in 1953 as Occoquan’s successor school. It is important to note that the intent of Gar-Field High School has never been to disrespect or disparage Native Americans or their cultures. And, it is imperative that we address the impact of the continued use of the mascot. Therefore, I am writing today in response to increasing calls for our school community to address the “Indians” mascot.

Gar-Field High School represents a diverse school community which not only accepts but celebrates the many cultures represented by our families. Our students are extremely proud of our diversity and learn so much about the world through the cultures of their classmates and teachers. I am proud that it has been our students who are demonstrating their commitment to Gar-Field by taking leadership on this matter. The SCA officers, elected student leaders, have called on Gar-Field to undergo “a mascot change to promote a culture of respect and expand understanding for all.” I have also heard from many alumni and community members expressing their support for a change as well. Therefore, with the support and direction of PWCS leadership, Gar-Field will retire the “Indians” mascot and will begin the process of selecting a new mascot effective for the 2021-22 school year.

Gar-Field will gather community input following a similar process as other PWCS schools who have undergone mascot changes in recent years. We will form a selection committee comprised of representatives from all stakeholder groups and will welcome student and community suggestions. Connection to Gar-Field history and traditions will be a very important factor in the selection process. We will follow a three-step process as outlined below:

  1. Community submission of mascot suggestions: Students, staff, alumni, and community members are invited to submit suggestions through April 4th.
    1. GF Students and Staff click here for the submission form
    2. Alumni and Community Members click here for the submission form
  2. Mascot Selection Committee: A committee of representatives from our stakeholder groups, including students, staff, alumni, parents, and community members, will evaluate mascot suggestions and identify finalist mascot submissions.
  3. Community Preference Survey: GFHS will survey stakeholder groups to express their preference of the finalist mascot submissions.

We understand that there will be a cost associated with changing the mascot. The Gar-Field High School community is very fortunate to have the support of PWCS leadership in this matter. Associated costs, which can include murals, signage, uniforms, and other items, will be covered by PWCS.

Lastly, I understand the prospect of any change can evoke a wide array of feelings and varied reactions. All of us who have ever been fortunate to have attended or worked at Gar-Field know our identity is more than our mascot. We are Big Red, we are Champions, we are Gar-Field. I am very hopeful this process will be an opportunity to bring our community closer together. I call on all members of the Gar-Field community to remain united as we seek to select a mascot which fully reflects our values of inclusiveness, respect, and being champions for others.

Matthew Mathison
Principal, Gar-Field High School