‘Big Reds’ no more - Sexton High School selects new mascot, name

After almost 80 years of “Big Reds,” the high school is switching to “Scorpions.”
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 10:52 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 16, 2022 at 2:04 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - JW Sexton High School has a new mascot. The Lansing School Board of Education unanimously approved changing the J.W. Sexton High School mascot name to the Scorpions on Thursday night.

“I’m excited about being a part of progress, and I think our students are as well,” said Principal Dan Boggan III. “As some of them voiced today, ‘Why’d it take so long?’”

Boggan said the change has been five years in the making.

Background: Lansing’s Sexton High dropping Big Reds name

With nearly 80 years of Big Reds history, the transition to the Sexton Scorpions is a big undertaking. After months of student, staff, alumni, and community input, the students presented their top picks for names, one was the top student pick that replaced Big Reds as the school’s mascot.

Boggan said the process was sped up when Sexton High School was awarded a grant totaling $87,500 from the Native American Heritage Fund in August.

The logo will remain the Block S, with removing 2. The mascot will be going into immediate creative development. Once the logo design is approved, it will be revealed at a student pep rally before the winter break and fully implemented by the start of the 2023-24 school year.

The district brought in Anthony Stone Jr. a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati to explain the reasoning behind the change to students at an assembly. Stone is a Ph.D. candidate whose focus is on race and inequality

“I’ve spoken with Native Americans who actually live in this community, who find Native American mascots to be deeply offensive,” said Stone. “Those mascots really shape how people think about them and make them invisible.”

Native Americans tell Stone the mascots are not representative of them or their lifestyle. In fact, Stone said the mascots perpetuate hurtful stereotypes about who Native Americans really are.

“I’m proud to be the biggest Sexton Big Red fan of them all,” said Board of Education President Gabrielle Lawrence. “But the fact is, we know it’s time for a change. The stereotypes the Big Red mascots of the past reinforced were hurtful to our Native American community, and we are past due on a change. Everyone was involved in changing the name, and if Scorpions wasn’t the first choice, it was always a top pick for most people. The Sexton Scorpions will be great in any activity they participate in the future.”

“We appreciate all the community and staff input, and we will all look forward to creating the mascot,” Boggan said.

JW Sexton High School is also planning a land acknowledgment event with local Native Americans for the spring of 2023.

The move follows other area schools in dropping mascots deemed insensitive to Native American heritage. Earlier this year, nearby Okemos Public Schools revealed a new mascot, the Wolves, as they moved from the Chiefs.

In July 2021, Riddle Elementary School changed from the Little Reds to the Rhinos.

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