Brandon girl petitions to bring back “Braves” mascot at Brooker Elementary

Hillsborough County

School is out for summer but one Brandon 10 year old is hard at work to re-instate her school mascot. 

Maggie Ramos launched the Save the Braves campaign after learning last month Brooker Elementary would no longer be “the Braves,” the school’s mascot for nearly 60 years. 

Hillsborough Schools decided to do-away with Native American-themed mascots on six elementary and middle school campuses, citing cultural insensitivity. 

Maggie and her mother, Jessica Ramos believe the Braves represent Florida’s Native American heritage and history, and embody ideals like “integrity” and “honor” that are important to teach students. 

“I’m standing up for what I believe in,” Maggie Ramos said. “I feel like that defines what a Brave is.” 

“I said ‘Well, when you don’t agree with something, there are things that you can do,'” Jessica Ramos explained. 

Maggie’s disappointment in the mascot change quickly became a lesson in civil discourse as she researched how to start and circulate a petition. Within a couple of weeks, she managed to collect more than 500 signatures. 

“Everyone is mostly in support of keeping our mascot because everyone is familiar with it,” Maggie said. 

The names on Maggie’s petition includes at least Hillsborough County school board member Melissa Snively, who did not agree with the district’s decision to remove mascots without input from the board or schools themselves. 

The district moved to remove the mascots after consulting with a parent advisory group representing the Native American community. 

“It can be offensive to use these mascots,” Hillsborough County Schools spokesperson Tanya Arja said in May, when the decision was made. “So, when you’re using them like a caricature or a cartoonish figure, that is very offensive and not respectful.”

The school board is scheduled to meet Tuesday, June 4th and Maggie Ramos plans to present her petition. Board member Snively has stated intentions of bringing up the mascot issue as well. 

Even if the efforts prove unsuccessful, Jessica Ramos couldn’t be prouder of her daughter bravely defending the Braves. 

“It’s worth fighting for, for sure,” she said. 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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