The Southwest Times Record reports — unsurprisingly — that a Fort Smith School Board move to remove Confederate trappings from Fort Smith Southside High School has drawn plenty of flack, along with some support.
The article recounts how the Confederate battle flag was stripped from use some years ago, but not the playing of “Dixie” as a fight song or many other trappings of the Confederacy in school branding. Gone now, too, I guess is a student dressed in a Confederate uniform firing a cannon.
School Principal Wayne Haver, who’s been critical of the change of tradition, now says that, of course, the School Board gets to make the call.
Haver said he “wasn’t exactly in favor” of changing either the mascot or fight song.
“I’d hate to see a school lose its traditions of 52 years,” he said. “But the board gets to make that decision. It’s amazing one situation causes such a knee-jerk reaction across the nation.”
If the school board moves forward with the changes, “We’ll do what it takes,” Haver added.
He estimates the mascot change will cost between $200,000-$500,000 for new uniforms, gym floors, scoreboards and stadium signs.
The School Board wants to ban the use of “Dixie” as the school’s fight song for the upcoming 2015-16 year, while the mascot would be changed for the 2016-17 year. Communication Director Zena Featherston Marshall said that if the measure is ultimately approved next month, other Rebel-related monikers like the Dixie Belles drill team, Confederette girls’ volleyball team and Johnny Rebs choir will also be changed.
Johnny Rebs choir?