Shawnee Mission North completes transition to new mascot ahead of 100th anniversary

SM North Bison

Shawnee Mission North has completed the removal of all images and references to the school's former Indian mascot. The school's new mascot, the Bison, can be seen in North's new weight room. Photo credit Juliana Garcia

Shawnee Mission North officially dropped its former Indian mascot, which was deemed offensive, last year and became the home of the Bison.

Now, after a one-year transition period, you won’t be able to spot any images or references to the old mascot at the 100-year-old school.

Why it matters: The start of this school year is the culmination of a more than two-year effort to change the mascot and comes just as the school and its alumni are getting set to celebrate SM North’s centenary.

Background: Two years ago, a group of SM North alumni started an online petition seeking to change the Indian mascot by the school’s 100th anniversary — which will officially come in September.

  • The SMSD school board adopted a new mascot policy in 2020 that, in part, required mascots “not be derogatory or offensive to a person or class of persons based on a protective class.”
  • That made SM North’s Indian mascot, along with three elementary schools’ mascots out of compliance, and the schools needed to find new mascots.
  • SM North was given a year-long period to transition all its signage and team paraphernalia from the Indian mascot to the new Bison mascot, which was selected after a community vote.
  • The start of the 2022-23 school year marked the deadline for the complete implementation of the new Bison mascot.
SM North 'N'
The ‘N’ logo will also still be used around the school, Ewers said, like near the field house pictured above. Photo credit Juliana Garcia

The transition status: SM North Principal David Ewers said all official Indian signage and paraphernalia have been removed from the school, though he admits smaller things, like maybe sticker somewhere with an image of the former mascot, might still be found.

  • A committee of students, staff and other stakeholders are still trying to figure out where to put the new mascot in and around the school, Ewers said.
  • The field house floor, student uniforms and the school’s new weight room — courtesy of SM North’s facilities-specific funding from the district’s $264 million bond — are the most notable spots where the new mascot is visible.
  • Class gifts that contained images or references to the old mascot (including an old marquee sign), along with previously used signage and other Indian paraphernalia are currently in storage with the district, he said.
  • A plan for what to do with those items is being determined by the district and will be announced at a later time, he said.

Key quote: “Achievement and excellence and equity are things we’re going to push for and we’ve done that for 100 year,” Ewers said. “We’re going to continue to do that for another 100 years.”

What’s next: Next month, SM North alumni, students, staff and other community members are invited to celebrate the school’s 100th anniversary.

  • That weekend-long celebration will commence with a Friday night homecoming game on Sept. 9 and continue with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 12.
  • Details can be found online here — and more information on this from the Post is on its way.