Chew introduces mascot proposal


Created by Keertana Gangireddy

It has been proposed for the mascot to change from “The Grey Ghosts” to “The Ghosts”.

Keertana Gangireddy, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Superintendent of schools, Christopher Chew, has recommended that the Westford Academy mascot change from “The Grey Ghost” to “The Ghost”, as well as to change the design of the mascot at the school committee meeting on Nov. 9.

This proposal comes after years of discussion regarding the mascot’s ties to a confederate soldier in the popular 1950s TV show, The Gray Ghost. The change has been introduced to rid the possible connections of the WA mascot to the Confederacy. There will be public comment as well as a vote on the proposal at the school committee meeting on Nov. 22.

Chew believes that there is insufficient evidence to draw a connection between the current mascot and The Gray Ghost based off of the decision in 1959 to change the mascot from the Black Knight to the Grey Ghost. However, after conversations with the Westford DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Committee, he has initiated the change in mascot because of the association that the community has made recently between the Confederacy and the mascot. 

“Based on the information that I have read and from the conversations I have had, I’ve talked with the people who were there in 1959 [and] a part of the process when [Westford Academy] became the Grey Ghosts. I do not believe that the Grey Ghost was intended to be connected to a Confederate soldier. However, I am greatly concerned it has now become such a connection. And then now, something that might have never been intended to be associated has now been connected [with the racist values of the Confederacy],” Chew said. 

Chew especially remarks on how other towns view Westford because of the mascot, recounting how they believe that Westford supports racist values through the Grey Ghost. Junior Anika Kagalavadi agrees with the mascot proposal for this reason.

“I [support the proposal] that we should change it [the mascot] because of its history; some people may perceive our school in a negative light, and we don’t want to be associated with those kinds of figures [in the Confederacy],” Kagalavadi said.

The rebranding of the mascot is intended to remove any connection with the Confederacy and for students to reclaim its narrative, while still maintaining the ties and relationship the community has to the symbol of the ghost.

“To me, the idea of being able to stay the Ghosts, [maintains] a wonderfully unique mascot for the town [that] is connected to some things that people feel has a rich history. If we will remove the word ‘Grey’, we will be removing the potential association with the Confederacy and so in doing that, it allows for the for the Academy to then make decisions about the image [of the mascot],”Chew said. 

Although there was some concern in the past about the lack of student engagement in small focus groups regarding the mascot, Chew deliberately didn’t force certain groups of students into the conversation regarding the mascot.

“I decided to not specifically try to get additional small focus groups of students because one of my biggest concerns about any change at this moment in time is all of a sudden it becomes about a specific group of students,” Chew said.

 Student representative senior Hannah Macey believes that the general student body will support the compromise indicated in the mascot proposal, as it preserves traditions but still minimizes the impact the current mascot may have on some members of WA.

“This is a compromise that the majority of the student body will get behind. We [will] still have our traditions through the Ghost, but we definitely don’t want people to feel isolated or disrespected,” Macey said. 

The policy subcommittee is to draft a resolution regarding the proposal to send out to the community before the public comment on the 22nd. 

Westford School Committee member and chairman of the policy subcommittee Alicia Mallon hopes to have an official celebration or ceremony should the mascot be changed to signify the town moving forward from the older mascot and its controversy.

“If this is the way the district is going to go, I think there should be a clear demarcation point. Once the decision is made […], there should be some sort of celebration. This should be a marking of how we are reclaiming this. This is us controlling our narrative. This is us saying this is who we are and we move forward,” Mallon said. 

Read an article regarding the financial impact of changing the mascot here.