Students respond to Rebel mascot in wake of national events

By Megan Wehring

Hays High School students were brought together to bring possible change to the mascot. 

Seniors Alena Hernandez and Zoe Reyna organized a student committee in favor of changing the Rebel mascot. The district has been separating itself from Confederacy ideals by banning the Confederate flag and the “Dixie” fight song at the school. 

Hernandez said changing the mascot would be a step towards creating a more inclusive environment. 

“It is no secret that our school is perceived as racist because of its history, and I believe that by changing the mascot we will be one step closer to ridding that image,” Hernandez said. “Racism plagues our school, and my goal is to just get us one step closer to having a safe and comfortable environment for all students.”

Reyna said she feels that the current student body has an empowering role to continue what previous students started. 

“Many students that came before us dedicated their time to getting the Rebel removed and I want our class to finally finish what they started,” Reyna said. “We feel a calling to stand up for those that are too scared of ridicule and backlash to stand up for themselves.”

Administration was determined to have any petition for a new mascot be a student-led effort. Social media has been the main platform for the committee. The petition has been passed around for about two weeks with 500 signatures. 

Hays High junior Marlee Claes, member of the committee, said changing the mascot raises awareness to national current events. 

“With the political climate around Black Lives Matter and just in general in the United States, I think it’s time to change things that are being honored when they aren’t necessarily worthy of being honored,” Claes said. 

The student committee will attend the Board of Trustees meeting in August, hoping to convince the board to make the change. Hernandez said it will be a lengthy process to impact and change the minds of the Hays community. 

“Of course, it takes time to change the mindset of a student body as large as ours, but I think by continuing to educate people we can help to better the school altogether,” Hernandez said. 

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