The Secret of the Red-Tailed Hawk

Why do we call ourselves the Red Tailed Hawks?

SEM's Red Tailed Hawk taking the field.

SEM's Red Tailed Hawk taking the field.

SEM has 166 years of history and tradition. Some of it is quite mysterious – leaving students wondering, why things are the way they are? There is always a purpose behind every change that happens within the white bricks of SEM. This reporter researched our mascot. Why did SEM transition from being the Buffalo Seminary Sirens to being the Red-Tailed Hawks?

SEM retired our mascot, the Sirens, in 2006 as a result of a school contest. Mrs. Marlette and other faculty members decided that the SEM Sirens was not appropriate for an all-girls school full of strong young women. Kathy Hanley, a SEM mom and former faculty member who teaches self defense at SEM submitted the Red-Tailed Hawk in the mascot contest.

“The Sirens, in mythology, are women who are basically monsters. They seduce sailors with their femininity and song. And, they make people crash their ships. I don’t know if that’s something SEM would want to embrace,” explained humanities teacher Jess Silverstein.

“It wouldn’t quite feel like the holidays if the Red-Tailed Hawk didn’t suit up and dance in Revel,” said humanities teacher Jess Silverstein.

Caroline Dunbar ’17, who reads mythology in her free time, said she likes the idea of the Sirens. “I want to go back to that. It’s empowering. If every school in Buffalo used historically acceptable mascots, none of us would have them.”

Perhaps greatest perceived frustration that students have with the Red-Tailed Hawk mascot is that it’s obscure and, ” it’s too long. People just say, ‘GO SEM!’ at crew regattas,” said Fatima Siddiqui ’17.

Every time I go out on the court or the field I am proud to be a Red-Tailed Hawk”

— Sam Burlow '17


But there is beauty in our mascot: red-tailed hawks often circle SEM’s Larkin Field during soccer, field hockey, and lacrosse games which bolsters team spirit.

The red-tailed hawk is considered an empowering and appropriate mascot. After the change,”Students were excited with the change because the Sirens wasn’t giving the right message about how we are. People instantly became excited to attend sports games,” said advancement & communications associate Betsy Bloom ’08.

The female red-tailed hawk is known to be dominant, effective, strong, beautiful, territorial and aggressive in guarding her nest and taking care of others. She has sharp eyes that command attention and she is strong in a beautiful way.