From Tomahawks to Titans

An in-depth look at the historic mascot change

April 5, 2022

After the monumental decision to retire the Tomahawk in April 2021 and a thorough nine-month-long renaming process, Principal Sean Bevan officially introduced students and teachers to the new mascot, the Titans, on Feb. 11. Now, in the two months following the announcement, the ARHS community has begun to rally around the new symbol.

“Changing the mascot is no small feat, and I think the community was very respectful in the process, conversations and discussions about it,” Superintendent Gregory Martineau said. “What has torn other communities apart has not torn us apart, and I think there’s a high level of respect that the community should be proud of. There might be some disagreement on where we landed, but I think overall, the process has spoken to the core values and respect of our community.” 

Although the school has officially changed the mascot in name, there is still much to be done. As Algonquin continues its transition to the Titans, several obstacles await.

 

The Game Plan

Administrators outline logistical steps of adjustment process

Transitioning the school from a previous mascot of 63 years to a brand new one is no small undertaking; with this significant change come numerous logistical hurdles administrators must manage. 

According to Martineau and Bevan, the first step in this lengthy process involves finalizing the Titans logo and its variations.

“Right now we’re in the final stages of working with a graphic designer to create a package of featured logos,” Bevan said. “There will be around five iterations of the mascot that will become the images we’ll use on uniforms, stationary and things like that.”

Although these five iterations of the Titans will vary in format and appearance, Bevan has taken steps to maintain consistency.

“Principal Bevan has worked on making sure we have a branding guide, so what fonts, icons and symbols we use will be standardized,” Martineau said. “When you look at the prior mascot, there were all sorts of different versions of that, so standardizing this one will be really important.”

To ensure the inclusion of student voices in this design process, Bevan organized a focus group of four students, giving them the opportunity to communicate their thoughts and concerns to the graphic design company, Phoenix Design Works

“Students have provided feedback on the graphic design, so whatever the final product is, that will represent some of the feedback that students have provided,” Martineau said. 

Following the finalization of the logo, administrators will tackle the facet of the school where the Tomahawk is currently most prevalent: the athletic program. With the gym floor, team uniforms and athletic banners still sporting the Tomahawk, this process will be a long and comprehensive one. 

We need to replace a percentage of our uniforms, insignia around the building, in our gyms which includes the playing surfaces and scoreboards and specific athletic department and team-issued equipment,” Athletic Director Mike Mocerino said in an email interview.

Some sports’ uniforms never displayed the Tomahawk at all—a feature that brings the athletic program one step closer to officially adjusting to the Titans.

“Around 30 to 35% of our current uniforms actually don’t have the Tomahawk on there at all, so they don’t need any changing,” Bevan said. “So we already have a baseline of 30 to 35% that we can rely on, then we can start chipping away on other things.”

With so many aspects of the athletic program that require change, one may expect costs to skyrocket. However, Bevan and Mocerino are hopeful the transition will remain relatively cost-neutral, as the new mascot will slowly be phased in in accordance with the already-established athletic maintenance timeline.

“At every point of decision-making, we’re going to balance the need to do it quickly without absorbing a huge amount of unanticipated costs,” Bevan said. “We have a cycle that we use to replace our sports uniforms, so we’re trying to stick to that cycle, but instead of ordering new uniforms with Tomahawks on them, we’re putting Titans on them.”

Mocerino has established an approximate timeline for the athletic program’s shift to the Titans.

“I think we are on track to make a full transition within the five- to seven-year plan with the goal of transitioning sooner, if it does not place financial distress on the school and athletic budgets,” Mocerino said via email.

He also accredits the Algonquin Athletic Booster Club for their hard work and support during this unprecedented time.

“In addition to what we normally provide through the athletics department, we’re extremely fortunate to have an Athletic Boosters program that is so supportive and helps supplement the experience our student-athletes will have here at Algonquin,” Mocerino said via email.

Along with these large-scale changes, administrators are also pursuing other minor but meaningful steps in the transition to the Titans.

“We’re working with local newspapers to let them know that we’re now the Titans, and they’re already starting to refer to us as the Titans,” Bevan said. “I would also like to find ways to send some small items like Titans stickers down to the middle and elementary schools so that they can start to get the younger grades to understand that this is our new mascot—one that they can hopefully get excited about.”

 

 

Titans or Tomahawks?

Algonquin reacts to major mascot change

After 63 years of the Tomahawk mascot, the major shift to the Titans has prompted mixed reactions within the community. 

Many—including social studies teacher Brian Kellett, who has been a part of “Tomahawk Nation” for nearly 15 years—have been receptive to the mascot change.

“I think that a high school mascot is something that can be fun; it can be something that you can rally around,” Kellett said. “If we can get back to the idea that this is supposed to be something that brings us together, that it’s supposed to be unifying at its core, then I think that’s a great thing. It’s been no issue for me to adjust at all, and I don’t see how it would have anything but positive and fun implications to try out a new mascot.”

Several students view the transition as a school-wide effort to be more respectful and inclusive.

“I think the mascot change was perfectly fine,” sophomore Landen Jorgensen said. “I think it’s good that we’re moving toward a more modern ideology of what represents our school.”

“I think [the new mascot] represents a good change,” sophomore Mckenzie Wood said. “It represents how we are evolving as a student body and how we’re evolving to be more inclusive.”

Many students have embraced the new mascot  for various reasons. According to a Harbinger survey of 127 students conducted through Google Forms from March 16 to March 22, approximately 46% of respondents say they are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the Titans.

“It’s nice because Titans are big and strong, and that’s something that I think Algonquin is,” senior Celine Goncalves said. “The Titans represent a new beginning. Algonquin can do better now, after COVID, with this new mascot.”

“I’m really excited about the name ‘Tiny Titans’; that’s really cute,” Wood said. “That’s probably the main reason why I decided that the Titans were actually a decent mascot.”

Although some students welcomed the idea of change, they would have preferred an alternative to the Titans. On Feb. 4, the student body voted on their ranked preferences for the five mascot finalists: Eagles, Falcons, Nor’easters, Thunder and Titans.

“I really liked the Trailblazers and Nor’easters; even though those were kind of generic, they were still more American because they represented our school in terms of geography,” Jorgensen said.

“I don’t really like the new mascot,” freshman Jacob Lipkin said. “I understand and respect the reasons for changing the old one, but I just wish they changed it to something I liked better. My first choice was the Nor’easters because I thought it was really interesting and unique.”

And others, like Wood, were surprised about the results of the student vote.

“It was kind of a shock,” Wood said. “I was confused when it was announced because a lot of the talk around Algonquin was based on two primary mascots—the Eagles and the Falcons—just because they were birds of prey, and that was popular.”

Moreover, some individuals find the Titan to be a problematic mascot due to its Greek origins. According to Jorgensen, the Titan’s association with Greek mythology could lead to another controversy surrounding the mascot in years to come. 

“The Titans are named after a Greek myth, and I think it’s insulting to take their history without permission and use their myths as a mascot,” Jorgensen said. “We’re still stealing from someone, and I thought the point of this transition was to stop stealing and create something new. I don’t think it’s as offensive as the Tomahawk was, but it’s still stealing.”

Despite any initial shock or displeasure, many students have accepted the Titans as the new mascot. However, some are still hesitant to move on from the Tomahawk, unhappy with the change itself. According to the Harbinger survey, 22% of respondents are either “unsatisfied” or “very unsatisfied” with the Titans.

“The Tomahawk has been the mascot for my freshman, sophomore and junior years, and it’s just been very familiarized to me,” senior Jack Roiter said. “I’m a big athlete; I’ve played on teams every spring and fall season, and we already have all the Tomahawk jerseys, chants and songs.” 

“I just saw the Tomahawk as a symbol for Algonquin; I didn’t see it as a weapon or tool,” senior Ben Davidson said. “I didn’t really see the main reason behind [the mascot change].”

According to Bevan, members of the senior class tend to be the most reluctant to transition from the Tomahawk. 

“Not to generalize the whole senior class, but out of all four grades, I think that seniors are uneasy and are having the hardest time adopting the new mascot,” Bevan said. “The Titans mascot just doesn’t roll off the tongue for them, since they’ve been in this town and at this school for a long time. I also think there’s a bit of an identity happening here, where seniors are seeing themselves as the last of the graduating classes that were really Tomahawks through and through.”

This remaining persistence to renew the Tomahawk mascot—a sentiment still prevalent among the senior class—has not gone unnoticed to other students, either.

“During the girls’ hockey championship, the chants were all ‘Go T-Hawks,’” Jorgensen said. “The seniors started up the old [‘oh, ole ole’] chant, and I found that to be incredibly disturbing, especially because Mr. Bevan and Mr. Mocerino were both there, and we changed the mascot a few months ago.”

Although many current upperclassmen are reluctant to accept the mascot change, administrators and students alike recognize that future classes will likely be more receptive.

“I think that, for juniors and seniors, there is a sense of loss for some because they’ve identified as a T-Hawk for most of their high-school career,” Martineau said. “I think there’s also a level of real excitement in our middle schools and our freshman and sophomore classes, and they’ll be able to plant the seed moving forward around the Algonquin Titans and what that means.”

“As the years go by, it’ll be easier for the freshmen to come in and be the Titans right away,” Roiter said.

 

 

Looking Forward

ARHS community considers future as Titans

Almost two months have passed since the Titans became Algonquin’s new mascot. So what does the future hold?

According to Bevan, giving the community time to process the change will be the key to a smooth transition.

“Time will help to have our community embrace the Titans,” Bevan said. “When our kids start wearing Titans gear and associating that gear with their teams, their friendships, the wins and losses on the field and their performing arts events, I think it’ll just start to permeate the culture of the school.”

Kellett shares this sentiment, stating that more visual exposure to the Titans symbol will help students and teachers better adjust in years to come.

“It seems to me there’s a lot of people who are in the process of getting used to it, but maybe haven’t fully been exposed to it visually as much as they will be,” Kellett said. “I think that’s going to be a big part of the transition.”

People should still be proud of being a T-Hawk; a shift to the Titans is just looking forward to the future.”

— Gregory Martineau, superintendent

Students have also made suggestions to administrators on how they could facilitate the adjustment process. One such recommendation, on which several students agree, involves creating and distributing more Titans merchandise around the community.

“Making new gear would be great,” Wood said. “I’ve already seen teachers wearing Titans shirts, and those shirts are in the school store right now, but I think we should have a wider range of gear.”

“The school should give us options on how the merchandise looks and let us choose,” Davidson said. “That would make me like the Titans more.”

Meanwhile, Jorgensen said it would be beneficial to concentrate on rallying the lowerclassmen behind the Titans, rather than expending too much effort on converting the upperclassmen. 

“The hardest challenge this year is getting the senior class on board,” Jorgensen said. “I think targeting the younger classes might be more helpful in the long run.”

As the community continues its journey under the Titans mascot, administrators reassure students, teachers and alumni that the mascot change was not intended to erase Algonquin history, but to embrace the future.

“I’ve had conversations with alumni, and what I keep hearing from the alumni I’ve spoken with is that they’re always going to be a T-Hawk, but they’re excited for the future,” Martineau said. “That’s exactly the message the school moved forward with—that we’re not erasing the past. People should still be proud of being a T-Hawk; a shift to the Titans is just looking forward to the future.” 

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