Shady Side Academy discontinues use of Indians mascot

Wednesday, July 1, 2020 | 12:13 PM

The Shady Side Academy Indian mascot, in use since 1936, will be discontinued effective immediately, the school announced Wednesday.

The school’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Tuesday evening to discontinue the use of the mascot.

Board of Trustees chairman Jonathan Kamin, a 1991 Academy graduate, said the recent discussion and decision concerning the mascot is a renewed look at its history with the school and its impact on the school and community.

“The Board of Trustees is keenly aware that our Shady Side community is comprised of more than 8,000 students and living alumni whose experiences at the Academy spans more than 90 years,” Kamin said in a lengthy statement.

“The Board’s decision to change the name should not be construed, in any way, as a decision to change or erase our history. The Board of Trustees and administration remain fully dedicated to appropriately recognizing this chapter of our history.”

Kamin said student leadership discussed the matter throughout the 2019-20 academic year and provided survey results showing a majority of the Senior School student body supported changing the name.

The Board of Trustees, Kamin said, had planned to discuss the issue in the spring, but the burgeoning covid-19 response took priority.

He said the board’s vote reflects a recognized view that a significant part of the community feels it cannot embrace the Indian and the mascot as a team name.

Kamin said the selection process of a new mascot and team name will be a collaborative process involving alumni, students, parents and faculty. He hopes the Board of Trustees will make the final decision on the new mascot and team name in the late fall and make an announcement by the end of the 2020.

“While we recognize that this change will cause some to be disappointed, there is no doubt that this is the right decision to move Shady Side Academy forward,” Kamin said.

Gene Deal, Shady Side Academy’s director of athletics, said he is confident the administration, faculty, students and parents will embrace this challenge with respect and kindness.

“This is an opportunity for us to come together as a community and embrace a larger vision,” Deal said.

“I am excited for our student body to have a mascot that we can all rally behind and cheer for at our athletic games. I predict this will elevate our school spirit to a new level. Onward SSA!”

Shady Side Academy president Bart Griffith Jr. said the administration fully supports the trustees’ decision to discontinue the Indian as the mascot.

“We look forward to leading our community through the process to select a new mascot in the coming months,” Griffith Jr. said. “As a proud alum and someone who appreciates both the history and continued evolution of Shady Side, I believe we have a unique opportunity to establish a symbol that more fully unites our community and assists in building upon the already strong spirit of the school.

Several schools in the WPIAL use the Indians mascot, including North Hills, Indiana, Peters Township, West Allegheny and Penn Hills.

Aliquippa has an Indian mascot but goes by the Quips nickname.

Michael Love is a TribLive reporter covering sports in the Alle-Kiski Valley and the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh. A Clearfield native and a graduate of Westminster (Pa.), he joined the Trib in 2002 after spending five years at the Clearfield Progress. He can be reached at


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