RANDOLPH, Utah – In 2009, Dixie State College in St. George, Utah made a controversial decision to abandon the use of its longtime nickname: the Rebels. Eight years later, a small high school in the opposite corner of the state, with the same nickname and mascot, was faced with a similar decision.
Rich High School principal Rick Larsen said the school’s mascot has been a topic of discussion for some time. He said the school board recently made the decision to keep the Rebels as its nickname, but to disassociate itself from the Confederate soldier. He said the mascot will now represent “a different kind of rebel.”
“It will be the founding fathers,” he said. “The colonial rebels.”
The official mascot for the less-than-150 students enrolled at Rich High will be the “Revolutionary Rebels”, named for the patriots of the Revolutionary War.
Larsen said signage at the school has already been taken down, that the costumed Confederate soldier mascot who walked the sidelines at football games has been removed, and that the school’s logo, which depicts a cartoon confederate soldier holding a sword, will soon be changed.
“We’re not quite sure what it is going to look like,” he said. “The colors right now will stay the same.”
Larsen said that many in Rich County, including himself, have long seen some sort of change as inevitable, but that doesn’t mean everyone is welcoming the switch.
“Obviously this has caused a lot of concern in this little county,” he said. “This has caused a lot of division and dissension you could say. Lots of opinions.”
According to Larsen, discussions were initiated by the school board earlier this year. Shortly after, he took the discussion to his students and began getting their thoughts. It was a group of students that came up with the idea of the “Revolutionary Rebel” and then presented it to school board.
A survey showed that 79 percent of the students supported the “Revolutionary Rebel” rebrand.
The students’ proposal to the school board can be read below.
Dear school board,
We the students of Rich High School are aware of the controversy caused by our current mascot. Our current mascot has been a symbol of this country and has been valued by many individuals. We the student body also value the mascot, but due to the changing views of society we realize that our mascot may represent something very negative and offensive to others. We ask that you take our idea for a new mascot into consideration.
A Revolutionary Rebel is another representation of being a Rebel. During the Revolutionary War, revolutionaries rebelled against oppression. The Revolution has since come to symbolize freedom and unity. A change from the current mascot to the Revolutionary Rebel would be simple and inexpensive. We believe that it would be a positive symbol of the values held by Rich County students and citizens. We the student body support the change of the current mascot to the Revolutionary soldier while keeping the Rebel name.