The Kaukauna Galloping Ghost statue in front of Kaukauna Area High School. KCN photo.

KAUKAUNA — A group of Kaukauna High School students concerned that the Galloping Ghost statue in front of the high school causes confusion for vistors because of its similarity to a hooded Klansman is asking that the statue be moved.

The students are not asking the school board to drop the mascot, but to move it from the front of the school, according to a statement from the school board (below). The students are not affiliated with the KHS Civic Engagement Class.

The statue represents the school mascot, most likely named after football star Red Grange of the early 1900s who was known as the Galloping Ghost, according to a history from the Kaukauna Public Library.

But its similarity in appearance to a Klansman has always followed the mascot.

When the tradition first began in the 1940s, the phantom rider that presented the game ball at the beginning of football games was dressed in all white, but in recent years was changed to its current black cape and hood.

The students made their request to the board in January and said they understood that the intent of the statue was to promote and honor the pride of being a Kaukauna High School Galloping Ghost and that there was no intentional symbolism alluding to a Ku Klux Klansman.

However, they also noted that instead, the statue creates confusion for visitors and leaves them wondering about the values of the high school and the community boasting a statue, even though unintended, of a racist symbol.

As word of the request has circulated in the community, the board says it also has received support from alumni and members of the greater Kaukauna community for maintaining the statue’s presence at the main entrance of the high school.

There is no timeframe currently for the board to address the request, but it is considering several options:

  • Maintain the presence of the statue as is
  • Maintain the statue and enhance it with signage
  • Relocate the statue away from the front entrance of the high school  

“The Board will continue discussion surrounding this important social topic in the weeks ahead, and hopes to come to a resolution in the near future, however, no timeframe has yet been set,” read a statement from the district.

Here is the full statement from the Kaukauna Area School District Board of Education:

In January 2022, the Kaukauna Area School District Board of Education received a request from a group of Kaukauna High School students to remove the Galloping Ghost Statue adjacent to the main entrance at the High School.

 The students presented the Board with several reasons for requesting the removal of the statue, the most resonating being that the statue does not represent the values of KHS students or visitors, making both potentially feel unwelcome.

While the students do understand that the intent of the statue was to promote and honor the pride of being a Kaukauna High School Galloping Ghost and that there was no intentional symbolism alluding to a Ku Klux Klansman, they noted that instead, the statue creates confusion for visitors and leaves them wondering about the values of the High School and the community boasting a statue of a, albeit unintended, racist symbol.

This group of students is not requesting a change to the Galloping Ghost mascot; but for the removal of the statue from the front of the school. Additionally, this group is not affiliated with the KHS Civic Engagement class.

Along with this current request, the Board and District continue to receive support from alumni and members of the greater Kaukauna community for maintaining the statue’s presence at the main entrance of the high school.

The KASD Board of Education continues to work to address these concerns, taking into consideration the multiple and varied perspectives about both the intent and the reality of the existing statue, and is considering the following potential options:

  • Maintain the presence of the statue as is;
  • Maintain the statue and enhance it with signage;
  • Relocate the statue away from the front entrance of the high school.  

The Board will continue discussion surrounding this important social topic in the weeks ahead, and hopes to come to a resolution in the near future, however, no timeframe has yet been set.  

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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.