Proud Brooker Brave students visit the Osprey Observer. Fourth grader Piper Nelson (L), fourth grader Maggie Ramos (R), rising kindergartener Jonah Ramos (L) and third grader Jude Ramos (R).

Maggie Ramos, a student at Brooker Elementary school, is learning about topics that are not taught in school but are making a big impact on her school’s spirit.

Ramos may only be a rising fifth grader, but, she was brave in speaking to the school board this week. With a petition in hand, she passionately spoke in front of the school board to keep her school’s spirit alive by keeping the Brooker Brave mascot.

“I don’t want to hurt Native American’s feelings, but instead be proud to be a Brooker Brave and keep the history and heritage alive in a positive way,” explained Ramos.

In May, the Hillsborough County Public School (HCPS) District and a parent advisory committee of the Hillsborough Native American community decided six schools would change its current Braves, Chiefs or Indians mascot. Brooker, Forest Hills, Thonotosassa, Summerfield and Ruskin Elementary Schools along with Adams Middle School have been told to adopt a new mascot. Two high schools, Chamberlain and East Bay, were allowed to keep their Chiefs and Indians mascot but had to change game day rituals to help students learn about Native American heritage.

Minerva Spanner-Morrow, chief diversity officer for Hillsborough County Schools explained they do not want to reduce the Native American images and mascots to the level of a cartoon or stereotyping the culture.

After hearing the announcement in school, Ramos along with her third grade brother, Jude Ramos, came home and told her parents she wanted to fight for her mascot. Ramos researched about petitions and started getting signatures to support ‘Saving the Braves.’ She spoke with School Board Chair Melissa Snively and addressed the school board at this months meeting.

Ramos said, “It is important to keep the Brooker Brave mascot because it has been around since 1961 and it is like a family tradition that they are erasing; a part of history. It would cost a lot of money to erase big murals and we need that money for technology and more classrooms.”

As a result, Hillsborough County School Board voted unanimously to pause its efforts to change school mascots until next month’s meeting on Tuesday, June 11, giving them more time to discuss concerns.

For information about supporting the Brooker Braves, visit https://savethebraves.home.blog/. For information about HCPS, visit www.sdhc.k12.fl.us.