Fifteen members of a new committee set on discussing the Manhattan High School mascot sat down face-to-face for their inaugural meeting on Wednesday at the Robinson Education Center. The group was formed nearly four months ago when the Manhattan-Ogden board voted to retain the mascot at a meeting on Dec. 7 of last year. The committee has until September to solve four prerequisite issues and possibly recommend to board members for the mascot to be changed.

The fifteen members of the mascot panel were selected earlier this year. Superintendent Marvin Wade is sitting as the chairman of what he said has become synonymously known as “the committee” around town. USD 383 members Dave Colburn and Curt Herrman are also sitting on the board along with two Manhattan High School juniors and a melting pot of K-State professors, MHS alumni, and citizens who are seeking to fulfill their civic duty.

Wednesday’s meeting was mostly an informal meeting where the panelists became acquainted with one another and also adapted to the stylings of Narmin Koenig, who has been hired as the facilitator of the committee. Koenig told committee members she had facilitated meetings for various boards, offices, factories, and many other entities seeking an impartial moderator during sensitive discussions.

Koenig had the 15 committee members participate in an icebreaker activity before setting the ground rules and methodology for the meetings. Each committee member was invited to speak in turn, sharing their own desires for a successful experience in civic discourse.

“Let’s be hard on the issues, and not on people,” said Wade. “Always assume good intentions.”

The committee members will have 16 different rules of engagement moving forward, which will be enforced by the impartial Koenig. Koenig said she plans to control the speed and intensity of all the conversations in order to help the committee answer four questions by September before they are sent to the board for approval. The questions being answered are:

  • Finding a portion of or an entire facility and scholarship to name for Frank Prentup, a former MHS coach, a descendant of the Tuscarora tribe and the man the mascot is meant to honor.
  • • Developing a teaching program and plan that educates students, faculty and community members about Native American history, religion, and culture.
  • • Exploring the creation of a mascot for students to “rally around” that is distinct from the Indian name and the image, like the Kansas City Chiefs have done with KC Wolf.
  • • Establishing what the true costs would be and what the timeline would look like if the Indian name and image were retired.

The committee will be meeting again on Thursday, April 13, at 4:30 p.m. to tackle the issue of naming a facility for former MHS football coach Frank Prentup.

“My goal is to get you guys to compromise sometimes,” said Koenig, who also pointed out she has facilitated multiple groups that ultimately ended up failing to reach a consensus.


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Source: KMAN Local News