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Napa High School is planning to form two advisory committees in the coming weeks to help the school retire the Indian with honor and to facilitate the choosing of a new name to replace it.

The school must cease using the Indian name and logo at the conclusion of the current school year, following a decision in March by the Napa Valley Unified School District Board of Education to end the use of Native American names and imagery for school mascots.

The school board gave Napa High until next February to come up with a new name. But the school’s leadership started working shortly after the board’s decision to get the process started.

Napa High Principal Annie Petrie has met this month with school organizations, boosters and staff to discuss how a new name could be selected, and how to establish something on campus that memorializes the Indian and its history with the school, which the school board also ordered.

“Since the board decision we’ve been processing that and working through an internal feedback cycle to figure out how to accomplish two tasks — the retiring of the Indian and selecting a new mascot,” said Petrie on Thursday.

“It was really important for me that those organizations that are amazingly supportive of our school had an opportunity to give feedback and weigh in and hear from me first,” she said.

After meeting with various Napa High stakeholders, Petrie said the school intends to form by the end of April an advisory committee — which will include Napa High students from all grade levels, teachers, alumni and community members — that will assist in the selection of a new name, but not actually choose it.

Instead, the committee’s job will be to review suggestions from students and community members for a new name, whittle down the choices, and create a ballot of options for students to vote on.

The ballot will be submitted to the school board before votes are cast. “We don’t want to put anything on a ballot that wouldn’t be approved” by trustees, said Petrie.

The voting will take place next fall, according to NVUSD spokesperson Elizabeth Emmett, and will involve students at Napa High and from feeder schools, including middle and elementary schools.

“People want to be part of a process that ultimately ends in a nice democratic way of selecting the next Napa High mascot,” Petrie said.

Once the new name is decided, the school will then tackle crafting a new logo. The school’s colors — blue and gold — will not change, according to Petrie.

The school board gave Napa High three years to fully implement all relevant changes. NVUSD estimated changing school murals, gym floors, band/athletic uniforms and more will cost $150,000—$220,000 annually for three years.

Napa High will form a separate advisory committee to decide how best to honor the Indian on school grounds.

“That committee will primarily be made up of [Napa High] alumni, seniors and teachers,” said Petrie.

This committee will be expected to come up with a decision by June 30, according to Emmett. The actual work of crafting the Indian’s retirement will come later.

What the school board wants is “some sort of longstanding observance or educational piece or historical piece” on the Indian, and some kind of ceremony to unveil it, she said.

Emmett said more information and specifics will be released soon regarding both committees and their work.

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“The next thing they will hear from us is an announcement of the process and the timeline and how they can apply to be on either committee,” said Emmett.

The school board’s decision to abolish the Indian came after more than a year of contentious public meetings that were emotionally charged on both sides of the debate.

Petrie said the upcoming work to retire the Indian and replace it with something new offers an opportunity at positive collaboration.

“I really believe this community is going to really come together through this process,” she said. “I really believe it based on the feedback I’m getting from folks.”

Emmett said the process could facilitate healing in the community.

“Working together, collaboration, listening to each other’s point of view helps,” said Emmett.

When the school board voted unanimously on March 22 to change the Indian, trustees also decided that Redwood Middle School Warriors should stop using its current logo featuring a Native American-style spear tip.

The name Warriors was left in place.

Emmett said there was no news yet on Redwood’s process for changing its logo.

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American Canyon Eagle editor

Noel Brinkerhoff has been editor of the American Canyon Eagle since 2014. Prior to that he covered state politics in Sacramento for the California Journal.