Students at Radnor High School walk out in protest over school nickname

The large group of students, most with signs in hand, slowly made their way into a large open field as part of a peaceful, school-sanctioned demonstration against the school's rebranding.

Video Transcript

- Controversy over a local high school's soon-to-be-retired mascot.

- Today, students at Radnor High School walked out of class to voice their opposition to the decision to change the school's symbol after it was deemed offensive.

- For more on the issue, we turn now to Action News reporter George Solis, live in Radnor Township today. George, what's the latest here?

GEORGE SOLIS: That's right, Brian and Sarah, to call it a complex issue is to put it lightly. The big question, the big center of debate here is on the Radnor Raider nickname. Some in this community feel that it is being wiped from the township's history without fair input.

As the clock struck 10:00 this morning at Radnor High School, a single-file of students from all grade levels could be seen leaving the school. The large collective, most with sign in hands, slowly made their way to a large open field as part of a peaceful, school-sanctioned demonstration against the school's re-branding-- an issue so heated the walkout itself has been about the only thing some parents and school leadership have been able to agree on lately.

MARK DRESSEL: The school should be allowing this to happen.

GEORGE SOLIS: The re-branding debate is largely centered on the Radnor Raider nickname. The name, with more than 70 years of history, was officially retired along with all related Native American imagery from the school district in September 2020 in an effort to, in their words, quote, "foster a fully inclusive community."

MARK DRESSEL: Kids, families, the community, we're being divided.

GEORGE SOLIS: While most stakeholders agree the imagery needed to go, many, including students, are fighting to keep the Raider name alone, while others believe it's right to be retired.

REESE HILLMAN: I've spoken with Native American members of our community who feel harmed and feel attacked by the name Raiders.

CACKIE MARTIN: After the year we've all had, this is just another thing that we've lost.

GEORGE SOLIS: Some students supporting the name say they've been attacked online, in some cases going as far as being labeled white supremacists.

ALLIE ENGLE: It's definitely weird how people look at me that way, but it's fighting for something you want, you know?

SCOTT BELVEAL: People are turning it into a political issue. I don't think that this is a political issue.

GEORGE SOLIS: More debate has followed the selection of a suitable new nickname. A list of 56 names has been whittled down to eight for more feedback from committee and focus groups involved in the process.

REESE HILLMAN: We all have this common goal of wanting to do what's best for our school. And I just think that the best way for our school to move forward is to completely distance ourselves from this past that has been so harmful.

GEORGE SOLIS: The school board will meet tomorrow, where we're told some public comment-- as you guessed it-- centers on this issue. But a final decision on the nickname is expected sometime in June.

We are live in Wayne, George Solis, Channel 6 Action News. Sarah?

- All right, George. Thank you.