Chaos in Lancaster continues, and it’s not ending anytime soon


Dave DeLuca, Executive Editor

I know, swallowing your pride can be damn tough, but Lancaster’s pro-Redskins supporters have taken it to a whole new level.

I’ll swallow my own pride for a moment and admit how naive I was in March. I thought when the Lancaster School Board unanimously decided to retire its offensive “Redskins” nickname the debate would end (I encourage you to laugh out loud).

Since that board meeting on March 16, a lot has happened:

  • Students decided to ditch homeroom one morning and march down the streets, chanting and holding up signs with pro-Redskins messages, like, “Redskins forever.”
  • Brenda Christopher and Kelly H. Depczynski, two pro-Redskins supporters, were elected to the school board. (Now there’s a petition to impeach them.)
  • Board meetings have turned into shouting matches. Sort of like slow-pitch softball players arguing balls and strikes, but worse.
  • The school picked “Legends” as its new nickname, with a logo designed by 14-year-old Korissa Gozdziak.
  • When Korissa was being honored at a board meeting, pro-Redskins supporters turned their backs to her. Grown men. Grown women. Fellow students.
  • An angry man shouted, “Heil Hitler” toward Board President Kenneth Graber, who, yes, is Jewish.
  • Christopher was interviewed on an Internet radio program based in Arizona. The radio hosts called Graber “a little scumbag,” and among other things, “a little Nazi” and “a french fry.” Christopher laughed.

I could go on, and on.

The election of Christopher and Depczynski proves that a majority of Lancaster wants the nickname changed back. Christopher was elected rather easily; receiving over 2,300 votes. Depczynski amassed over 1,900. While it’s a 5-2 board right now, with Christopher and Depczynski being on the minority, two more seats will be available next spring. Christopher is on record saying the school’s “Legends” nickname is “temporary.” Let the drama continue.

Sure, Christopher has said numerous times that she’s not on the board to change it back (eyes rolled, sorry). But we have to assume that she’s on the board with a clear-cut agenda. Most school board members have an agenda, that’s OK. But most of the time it includes a long-list of items they want to represent and push for. Like, problems with Common Core, and state-mandated standardized testing.

A school’s nickname shouldn’t be the dominant topic amongst a school board that represents Western New York’s second-largest school district with an enrollment of nearly 2,000 students.

To run for a school board seat for the sole purpose of switching the name back is extremely selfish.

It’s unfortunate because Lancaster really is a jewel in WNY. Having covered a Friday night football game in Lancaster, I can tell you – it’s electric. It’s a proud, passionate community. But right now their energy is being put towards the wrong cause.

Move on.

This, sadly, is not going away anytime soon. The community is pissed. The community certainly doesn’t understand what the name “Redskins” means and how wrong and unacceptable it is.

First off, any name with “skins” and color attached to it has no place in today’s society. Let alone the nickname for a high school. Taking a deeper look at history, “redskin” was the term used for the scalping of Native Americans, who were hunted for bounty and given as proof of the killing, since, well, it was easier than transporting an entire body.


It’s not about being politically correct. There’s right, there’s wrong. Isn’t this just wrong? Everyone has his or her own opinion. I get that. Lancaster folk say that Redskins was never looked at as a bigoted name or a slur. To them, it’s an honorable name used to describe the community’s pride and tradition.

But wouldn’t you think a country with an infamous history of removing Native Americans from the United States and raping, prisoning and murdering them along the way would be more understanding? You’d think so.

Here we are, four months after the name change, and I have a pretty scary feeling: It’s going to be changed back sooner or later. Christopher and Depczynski have already started the momentum.

Pro-Redskins supporters won’t give up. They aren’t going away quietly.

Graber was right on when he dropped this doozy in an interview with The Buffalo News.

“For 37 years, I sent people to prison, and they took it much more graciously,” said Graber, who is a 31-year administrative law judge who also served six years on the state parole board. “They understood what was going on and accepted it.”

Unfortunately, it looks like the worst is yet to come.

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