By Alexandria Hoff

RADNOR TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — The timing of a rally to keep the “Raiders in Radnor” was intentional. It took place Monday evening, the day before part two of a special Radnor School District School Board meeting to discuss the rebranding of the district nickname.

The first part of the meeting ended in a vote to recess after the public comment portion extended for almost five hours.

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“Raider” is a word that those who attended the rally clearly hold dear.

“The first instinct of everybody has been to look it up in the dictionary,” said Radnor High School Class of 1976 graduate Frank McAller.

He and fellow alumni, along with parents and residents who attended, have been campaigning for months in support of a school 90-year-old nickname that they believe is not inherently racist.

“I think Raider stands on its own,” said Class of 1986 graduate Tori Robinson, “We define what a Raider is.”

Kyle Addis was also among the dozens in attendance.

“I had never heard once about the name Raider being offensive or racist,” said the 2018 graduate.

The controversy surrounding the name came on his radar in September of 2020 when the school district voted to officially retire the “Raiders” as a nickname at district schools. Coupled with Native American imagery and a former mascot, the name had been deemed by some as offensive. The “Keep the Raiders in Radnor” campaign seeks to preserve only the nickname, not any of the imagery.

Since then, a rebranding committee has been formed, a student-led school walkout took place in support of keeping the name and multiple online forums to narrow down new names have occurred virtually.

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“There are high schools and colleges all over the country that are retaining the name Raider because it’s not racist,” added McAller.

Those fighting to make sure that the Raider name does not return disagree.

“You voted to remove both so why are so many of us here still here fighting to make this change? Why are we still giving voice to racist and bigoted ideals,?” asked a student with a listed name of Anneke during last Tuesday’s school board meeting.

The nearly five hours of public comment included about 250 speakers.

“Rebranding with the same but just a different mascot is sure to be a failing option,” said a resident named Maya who described herself as a student’s mother during the Zoom meeting.

Also in attendance at the Monday rally was a Radnor parent named Amanda Castilleja. Castilleja told Eyewitness News that despite her Native American heritage, she was not offended by the name “Raider” or the imagery. She did not wish to be interviewed on-camera but expressed that by schools around the country removing images of Native Americans, her family history was being lost.

Robinson also does not want to see the Raider legacy fade.

“I come from five generations of Radnor Raiders,” she said, “We are family. When you are a part of the Raiders, you are family.”

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The remaining portion of the recessed meeting will take place Tuesday, May 11 at 8 p.m.

Alexandria Hoff