Coachella Valley High School Announces New Mascot
Washington, D.C. | www.adc.org | September 11, 2014 – The Board of Trustees of the Coachella Valley Unified School District and Superintendent Dr. Darryl Adams announced a 5-0 vote to accept a new iteration of the Coachella Valley High School mascot and logo, as well as an additional word added to the team name. The Coachella Valley High School Arabs are now the Coachella Valley High School Mighty Arabs! The story has been publicized in many news outlets, including the New York Times, Buzzfeed, and WUSA.
The Coachella Valley Unified School District Office will hold a press conference on Friday morning at 8:30AM PST to officially announce the changes. The press conference will be held at 87225 Church Street in Thermal, California. Please contact ADC Media & Communications Specialist Amani Al-Khatahtbeh for questions regarding the press conference.
The mascot changes come after the school district was contacted by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee last November. Over the course of the past ten months, ADC and the school district have worked closely to reach a resolution. ADC’s initial letter to Dr. Adams explained, “ADC is appalled at the use of a caricature depicted to be an “Arab” as the official mascot of the high school. The image of the Coachella Valley High School mascot depicts a man with a large nose, heavy beard, and wearing a Kffiay, or traditional Arab head covering.” In the past, a student dressed as this figure would make appearances at sporting events and school functions. This practice has since been stopped.
Dr. Adams and the Board of Trustees worked communicated with site administrators, alumni groups, students, parents and staff to select from three student-nominated choices for the new mascot, logo, and name. In April 2014, ADC received three logo proposals for review, which it then shared with community members and experts for their input. The final selection was shared with the school district, which ultimately voted for the proposed change. The new logo is completely different from its predecessor: the single tooth and villainous scowl have been removed, and its updated version is being described as an image of a stoic, strong-jawed man with a neatly trimmed beard.
ADC President Samer Khalaf expressed, “This process has been a learning experience for everyone involved. We have had an opportunity to teach those in Coachella Valley about Arab culture and heritage. At the same time, we have had the opportunity to learn about the history of Coachella Valley and its strong connection to the Arab world. The past ten months have shown that almost any problem can be resolved through dialogue and cooperation. It is our hope that similar matters, including that involving the Washington professional football team, can reach a resolution that respects the culture and history of specific communities. We look forward to a continued relationship with the Coachella Valley School District.”
ADC Legal & Policy Director Abed Ayoub stated, “We welcome the decision by the Coachella Valley School District and the Board of Trustees. We commend Dr. Adams for his professionalism during this process. Over the course of the past ten months we have worked together not only to remedy this matter, but at the same time to also develop a bond and friendship between the Arab-American community and Coachella Valley High School that will continue to grow and prosper. It is our hope to continue working together to implement programs aimed at highlighting the beauty of the Arab culture and heritage.”
Dr. Darryl Adams stated, “The realization that the Coachella Valley High School mascot and name was offensive to fellow citizens or any group is one that we cannot ignore. As educators we are beacons of hope and light in helping students understand their place in society, and that place does not include stereotypical images that offend. As I said before, we must forever keep our eyes, ears, and hearts open to the feelings of others even when no disrespect or harm is intended. We along with the ADC hope to serve as role models in how to handle these types of situations and the Coachella Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees and I are proud of the citizens, alumni, students, parents and staff for how this situation has been handled. We look forward to working with the ADC in further educating our students, our community and others about the proud peoples of Arab cultures and traditions.”
ADC will work with Coachella Valley to raise funds to change the images and names of the previous mascot that are still present at the school site and on school uniforms. These funds will be raised from private donations and will not be raised at the taxpayers’ expense. More information regarding timelines and the process for change will be revealed at an upcoming press conference with the school district and ADC Legal & Policy Director Abed Ayoub.
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