The Sanford School Committee was holding a public hearing on sports teams’ nicknames and mascots, but it could have been teaching a history lesson.

The board took testimony from Sanford High School athletes from long ago who said that they were proud to wear the colors of a team called the “Redskins” and never meant to insult anyone of Native American heritage.

It also heard from the Maine Indian Tribal State Commission, which said that the term “redskin” is a derogatory remnant from the days when a bounty was paid for killing Indians.

And they heard from one man of Native American descent who grew up in Sanford and said he was teased mercilessly throughout his childhood. He called for the town, the last in Maine to call its teams by that name, to drop it.

If this were part of a history lesson, it would show how an insensitive action by the majority can hurt people in the minority. And just because someone doesn’t mean to be offensive doesn’t make the sting hurt any less.

The Sanford School Committee did the right thing Monday when it voted to remove the name from the town’s high school teams. It also did the right thing by hearing the public commentary on what is an emotional issue for many people on both sides of the question.

People who innocently participated in Sanford sports without realizing that the Indian name was offensive to others feel as though changing the name now would diminish their school spirit and their memories of the past.

But now that everyone knows, the school board’s decision got support from perhaps the most important constituency: current students at Sanford High School. Their commentary was especially telling.

“I think it’s shameful,” said Michaela Dwyer, a Sanford High senior and cheerleader. “If just one person is offended, it is one too many.”

The process may have taken too long for some people, but in the end, the board reached the right result and the right lesson was learned.