A student group’s plan to paint an American Indian, the Syosset High School mascot, onto the school’s parking lot has been scrapped after a student-led forum on Friday.
The project was proposed by a group of students as a way to boost school spirit, according to Syosset’s student government president Carly Battipaglia. It was never approved by the administration, a spokeswoman for the Syosset school district said.
About 50 students attended the meeting, according to Battipaglia. The forum was called after an online petition criticizing the plan was signed by more than 200 people.
After listening to several students speak out for and against the project, Battipaglia said the student government officers decided not to approve the mural.
“The decision, although hotly debated amongst students of various backgrounds at the forum, was ultimately determined by a very simple principle: If one individual is personally offended by an avoidable situation, it is our duty as representatives of the student body to ensure a safe, secure and supportive learning environment,” a letter from the student government reads.
Kate Majoy, a senior at Syosset, said she was disappointed by the decision.
“I saw it as a way to honor a culture that has been part of Long Island for a much longer time than Syosset High in a positive way,” said Majoy, 17. “I feel like it was a bit of a missed opportunity, but I understand it’s a divisive issue.”
Janvi Pamnani, a senior at Syosset who created the petition, said she’s glad that she and her peers were able to “effect positive change” at their school.
“I’m glad that the decision was made this way and that we all had the chance to share our opinions and concerns,” said Pamnani, 17.
Syosset Superintendent Thomas Rogers said he was proud of the way students handled themselves at the forum.
“They were all very respectful of one another and showed so much integrity. And in the end, after a dignified discussion, they came up with a decision. I’m very proud of them for that,” said Rogers, who added that there are no immediate plans to change the Syosset mascot.