As the school district ponders a name change, a graduate gives his thoughts on what should or should not be done.

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If you haven't heard, the long and short of it is New York State is making all schools with First Nations names and imagery change them or face losing state funding. The Iroquois Chiefs not only have a double name of First Nations people, but their logo is also of an Indigenous Person's head with feathers. So, they have been targeted by the state. See more here from WIVB.

The Town of Marilla is one of 3 towns that make up the majority of the district. Elma and Wales are the other 2. Marilla has come out, as read in the article linked above, against changing anything.

I grew up in Marilla. On Liberia Road, actually. I went to the Iroquois School District. First to Wales Primary, then Iroquois Middle and High Schools. I played football up until my senior year because I wasn't that good at it, and decided to work and make money instead. I was in the choir (which I was good at), on the track and field team, played JV Hockey (very poorly), was a middle-of-the-road student, and had some really great friends who I still talk to today. I wasn't the Prom King, but I wasn't the kid in the back corner (usually), either. So as a graduate and former resident, I have some direct perspective on this.

A little history: they were going to change the name when I was there in the late 90s to the Tri-Town Trojans (allegedly) for similar reasons to today. I remember as a kid being worked up about it, making a lot of condom jokes, and going on and on about tradition and pride. Today, no jokes are happening because we have no idea what the name might be if they change, but similar arguments are being made. Tradition, pride, history, etc.

After graduating in 2000, growing up, getting married, having 2 kids, and building a life and career that I am still working to better every day, I have gained a lot of knowledge and perspective on those days. This has led to this honest belief about the issue now:

I don't care if they change the name.

I just don't. I also don't care too much if they keep the name, either. That is UNLESS it affects the kids' educations and the teacher's ability to teach. It sounds like if they keep the name, it will affect that.

Now, sure, everyone can sue and we can play this out in court. As is their right. I prefer to default to the people this directly affects because regardless of what I or anyone thinks about the name, in my opinion, all that matters is who it actually affects which are the ACTUAL IROQUOIS.

We have an answer to that. The Seneca Nation is in favor of New York State doing this. Read more here: WIVB.

Putting even that aside, which we should never do but OK let's live there for a minute: the reason I don't care if the name gets changed in the most practical of senses is this: it was high school. it was fine. It wasn't AMAZING. It wasn't terrible. I learned stuff. I put up with stuff. I don't walk around saying I was a proud Iroquois Chief. Let's be honest most people don't say they were proud to be part of their high school. A handful does and good for them. I've moved on. It's fun to think back and I wouldn't hate visiting, but if it were named something different I honestly wouldn't care. It's still the same place with the same memories. The buildings themselves mean more to me than the names on them. I am more worried about the kids' and the teachers' well-being than the name of the school, which in my opinion are totally separate issues.

One thing I have eternally accepted in my life is that change is inevitable, whether I like it or not. There is no stopping it. That doesn't mean you don't talk about it, of course. Certainly, everyone in Elma, Marilla, and Wales needs to have the conversation, and they probably need to have it with the Senecas.

I will say this: I've never loved that the towns themselves aren't represented in the school's name. Elma, Marilla, and Wales have organizations abbreviated as E.M.W. to show their unification, which is popular. I'd like to propose a name that is fun and somewhat relevant to the area as we do have a few of these farms in WNY.

The EMW Emus

That would be awesome. Also, let's take a breath. It's High School. Why so serious all the time? They have their entire lives to be too serious. For most of us, it was about surviving high school, not thriving through it. For most kids today it's the same.

To sum it up: look have your fights about it, but if in the end if it's, "change the name or lose funding," I say change the name. Also, change it to the EMW Emus.

Pat McMahon is a Class of 2000 Iroquois graduate and Afternoon Host on 92.9 WBUF.

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