Expect a fight over the Fort Smith School Board’s vote last night to change the Southside High mascot from the Rebel and abandon “Dixie” as the school’s fight song.

40/29 reports that Southside principal Wayne Haver said he opposes the change and was blindsided by the board’s adoption of the issue. “I’m disappointed the school board didn’t even let me know this was a possibility,” he’s quoted as saying.

“It’s amazing that one idiot can create such knee-jerk reactions with what he did,” Haver said, referring to Dylann Roof, a white supremacist charged with killing 9 people in Charleston, South Carolina.

The school’s mascot, he added, “has nothing to do with discrimination for most people.”

The school board issued the following statement. July 27 is the date to watch for a final decision:


Giving great consideration to the continuing impact of perceived symbols of racism on the community, state and nation, the Fort Smith Public School Board convened as a Committee of the Whole tonight and passed a motion to discontinue the use of “Dixie” as the Southside High School fight song in the 2015-2016 school year, and to phase out the use of the Rebel as the Southside mascot in the 2016-2017 school year.

This motion passed with a 6-0 vote and will be presented to the Board during the regularly scheduled meeting on July 27, 2015. The Rebel and “Dixie” have been used as the Southside High School mascot and fight song since the school opened more than 50 years ago. The Board understands the challenges of changing what has come to be the tradition of the Southside High School community, and will work with the student body and staff over the next year to name a new mascot and fight song for the school.