Sewanhaka High will now be known as the home of the Ravens


Sewanhaka High School’s sports teams will now be known as the Ravens, after the district announced a mascot change at the May 28 Board of Education meeting.

The wheels of change began turning in May of last year, when the board voted to retire the school’s longtime mascot, the Indian. The vote came after the State Education Department’s unanimous ruling in April 2023 that schools around the state end the use of Native American mascots.

Sewanhaka’s mascot-selection process ended on May 24, after a year-long search for a replacement. The rebranding included mascot committee meetings, a survey by the school memorabilia manufacturer Jostens, polls of district residents, and a final vote that on May 21 which included students, alumni, faculty, staff, teachers and coaches.

“Each (committee) member took great pride in honoring our almost 100-year history,” the high school principal, Nichole Allen, said at last week’s school board meeting. “This was no easy task, and emotions were involved, but this group of dedicated Sewanhaka family wanted to ensure the storied legacy of this building remained although the mascot would change.”

The top three choices narrowed down by the 34-person mascot committee were the Aviators, the Wolves and the Ravens. Sewanhaka High senior Elliott Lamotte served on the committee, and said he believes the school’s mascot is an important part of the community’s history.

“We wanted to make sure we got this right — and students took this seriously,” Lamotte said in a district news release. “It is also an exciting time for our school, and it was an honor to be a part of the process.”

Over the past year, Sewanhaka head football coach George Kasimatis said, students have had entertaining debates, excited about what, or who, their new symbolic leader might be. After the news was shared last week, Kasimatis said there was noticeable positive energy in the school.

“Our teams, our leaders, our seniors in the upcoming year are going to be instrumental in forming our new identity and forming new catchphrases,” he told the Herald. “It’s exciting, because they feel like they’re laying down their own piece of history here at Sewanhaka.”

Matt McLees, the district’s athletics director, said he was happy with the selection.

“The mascot makes Sewanhaka unique as the only high school on Long Island to be called the Ravens,” McLees noted in the news release. “The colors fit nicely, and the connection to Sewanhaka history remains intact.”

Allen said that the Native American symbolism of the raven, as a creature of change and transformation, pays fitting homage to the school’s former mascot.

The school colors will remain the same, with purple pride reigning throughout the Sewanhaka High community. The new mascot will begin being displayed in September, according to the district. The final version of the raven image was still being designed by Jostens at press time.

Areas of the school grounds that featured the Indian, including the lobby, the football field and the basketball court, will be modified with $200,000 in funding secured by Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages to accommodate change.

“This funding will secure Sewanhaka’s transition into the new home of the Ravens goes smoothly without taking up valuable school resources,” Solages said in a news release. “Our community should be proud of the vote that yielded a new mascot to represent Sewanhaka High School, and I look forward to seeing these changes materialize.”

“I think we’re just looking forward to the change,” varsity softball coach Diedre Kelly said. “We’re ready to get behind it. We’re ready to start being Ravens.”