WESTFORD — Westford Academy Principal James Antonelli unveiled Westford Academy’s new mascot.
The School Committee originally voted unanimously on Nov. 22 to support a resolution drafted by Superintendent of Schools Christopher Chew to change the mascot.
In making the change, officials hope to alleviate concerns possible racist connotations of the previous Grey Ghost.
The now former mascot, a hooded figure with a dark face, prompted concerns over connections to both black face caricatures and a 1950s television show, “The Gray Ghost,” which follows the life of a Confederate commander.
The original Grey Ghost was created by student artist David Conley in 1994.
Students approve new mascot
Students in middle and high school cast their votes between two finalists this week.
“There was a clear winner of the finalists,” Antonelli told the School Committee in a Sept. 28 meeting. “We got feedback from everybody we could.”
The mascot, a white ghost, was created by Westford Academy senior Julia Donescu.
“We’ve gone through this process of creating a mascot committee, reviewing this with our internal DEI committee, we’ve had help from Dr. Chew and tried to keep the community updated,” he said.
Antonelli praised Donescu for her responsiveness to feedback from the committee.
“In the last 24 to 48 hours, some late comments came in that I shared with her, and she said ‘I think that’s a great idea,'” he said.
‘Change is hard,’ School Committee praises mascot
Antonelli, a 1986 graduate of Westford Academy, noted that change is difficult but that “it’s gonna happen.”
“It’s something I feel strongly about and I think we made a good change, keeping students involved in the process,” said Antonelli.
Members of the School Committee praised Antonelli and students for their work on the new mascot.
“Kudos to you Jim and the students and everyone who took part in this,” said School Committee member Sean Kelly. “You were tasked with making something that the students, residents and citizens of this town are proud of, and in my eyes you’ve done that.”
Westford Academy’s student representative Meghna Kumar, noted reactions from students have been “bittersweet.”
“I am happy for Julia, but frankly the student body probably prefers that it would’ve stayed,” said Kumar. “This is the reality that we’re living in, so I’m very happy for Julia that she got what she deserved.”
Kumar said she supported keeping the original mascot, but hopes parents and students can embrace the new mascot.
“I hope parents and students are focusing on Julia’s success,” she said. “Going forward you can embrace it and stay in the past.”
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