Islanders: It’s Time to Ditch the Snail


Graphic by Lena Hardisty

Chris Twombley, Adviser

So, let me get this straight: Almost 40 years ago MIHS ditched its racially-insensitive mascot, a caricature of a Pacific Islander with a bone through their nose, went years without an icon, finally settling for a snail that is vaguely reminiscent of a school logo no longer in use? 

A snail? A terrestrial mollusk?  

A snail: Savage destroyer of garden vegetables. A snail: An animal easily stomped under foot. A snail: A delicacy but only if drowned in garlic, herbs and butter. 

This is the best we can do?

Meanwhile, our rivals tout symbols of untamable ferocity: Eagles and Wildcats and Wolverines and Redhawks and Mustangs and Spartans and Wolves.

But, no worries, we have Herbert the Snail, to whom we are so uncommitted that Wikipedia lists him (?) as our school’s “unofficial mascot.” 

So, are we the Islanders or the Snails? 

I reckon there might be some advantage to being half Muggle and half wizard. Or to being half human, half god. 

But half Islander, half snail? It’s embarrassing, and I can imagine no metaphor that rectifies these conflicting connotations. 

And, of course, the issue is more serious than that. 

For those who say it’s too hard to change a school’s mascot, consider that many schools in our area have done so, including several in Kingco and Metro leagues.

This isn’t just a matter of rebranding. It’s about taking responsibility for your history. 

For several local schools, including Issaquah, Sammamish, and West Seattle, the community decided to honor Washington state HB 1356 – 2021-22, which “Prohibit[s] the inappropriate use of Native American names, symbols, or images as public school mascots, logos, or team names.” 

Unquestionably, these moves were the right thing to do. Ironically, we’ve already done the work removing our old, racist mascot. We just skipped the part where we acknowledged our past and deliberately chose an appropriate mascot to represent the best of MIHS’ school spirit. 

My solution?  First, we reaffirm that we are the Islanders. Next, it’s time to ditch the snail. Yes, Islanders, Herbert must go. 

Of course, the question remains: What is the best mascot to represent our school? For me, there’s only one, the Western Osprey, also known as the sea hawk. 

This noble creature is so unique that it has its own taxonomic genus; so fierce that medieval folk believed fish would turn belly-up in surrender at the sight of the bird; and so Islander that the school hosts a breeding pair of ospreys in the trees above the stadium. The osprey has chosen us. 

And, because I have your attention, it’s also time to change the name of our stadium, which, for my comfort, is too close in connotation to the racist logo of our past. 

An osprey’s nest is called an aerie. “Welcome to the Aerie!” That has a nice ring to it. A warm, spirited nest. Now, that’s inclusive.