Rain Koepke, a Native America (Shawnee) senior at Mukwonago (WI) High School, has taken a heroic stand against the school district which has refused his complaint to change the name and symbols of their athletic teams. For years, the high school has used the name “Indians,” and uses symbols that carry the theme.
He has to taken his complaint to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction which is charged with upholding the new state law that has tightened restrictions on the use of athletic team nicknames and symbols that may disparage certain ethnic groups, mainly Native Americans. Virtually the whole community is opposed to his proposal, it seems, supporting a recalcitrant school board and school administration.
Koepke has supporters, though, and one of those standing with him is Tom Sobottke, a longtime social studies teacher at the school. Tom has mentored the boy and is showing similar courage by supporting him. With Tom, it’s a matter of principle, and while it could make his position at the school uncomfortable, he is forthright in his support. Tom, to be sure, showing his support only during his personal time and is not bringing the subject up in the classroom, unless asked.
For the record, Tom is a friend and a onetime member of the board of the Wisconsin Labor History Society. For the details of the story of Rain Koepke, go to Tom’s blogsite and checkout his recent postings on this incident.