A school mascot is more than a name; it's an identity, aimed to bring together the community and facilitate a sense of pride.
So when switched in 2009 from the traditional "Redmen" name to "Red and Blue," it didn't sit well with some who saw the Redmen name not as offensive, but as an identity.
It's principal Rose Bertucci's hope, however, that the newly chosen "Red Hawks" mascot will play just as large a role in the school's history.
The second most popular choice was the Knights, which captured 22 percent of the vote.
An informal vote of eighth-graders from both middle schools also showed Red Hawks as the favorite.
"There's still a wound about the (original) name change," said Bertucci, who would not entertain the return of the Redmen, which some American Indians and other community members found offensive. "We're not taking away the years of the Redmen. They will always be embedded in Natick High's history."
To some voters, the "Red Hawks" vote may have had special meaning.
Last year, a red hawk flew through one of the high school's large glass windows.
"We've had several birds fly into the windows, and normally they perish," Bertucci said. "This one survived. We called Animal Control, which was off that day. We used a broom to get him out."
Pictures were taken of the bird. The unique event and the hawk's resiliency, Bertucci said, likely contributed to it gaining favor as a mascot among students and staff.
Other votes were divided among the Legacy, Pride, Tribe and Red and Blue.
There just wasn't much of a connection to "Red and Blue," which, Bertucci noted, "doesn't even look good on a chair."
The current nickname, which replaced the Redmen, earned only 13 of the 750 votes cast this week.
"It was time for a change," said Director of Wellness, Bob Anniballi. "The voting made it clear to me."
Anniballi praised Bertucci for keeping Chief Caring Hands, of the Natick Praying Indians Tribe, apprised of the mascot selection. The bird has significance in Native American culture.
Senior Brad Swartz noted that his class is Natick's only that will have had "Red and Blue" for all four years.
He is a supporter of the new mascot.
"Here, we have something that not only reflects our past ... but there was this event. A lot of people looked at it as symbolic," Swartz said.
Natick High alum Diane Fassino, of Fassino Design, will now come up with options for the official logo. The mascot will take effect with the opening of the new high school.