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Rebel logo voted out by site-based council

The name will stand for now, but the image is officially gone.

A unanimous 6-0 vote by the members of the Boyle County High School site-based decision-making council Thursday removed the image of a soldier riding a horse as the logo of the school and its athletics programs.

BCHS Principal Mark Wade, who is also a member of the council, said that when the issue of the mascot arose, the most important task was to seek input from current students.

“Recently, we were fortunate to meet virtually with a cross-section of minority students from the middle school and the high school not only to discuss this topic, but also to have a broader conversation centered around social injustice and race relations. This discussion allowed us to identify areas of opportunity to improve our students’ school experiences,” Wade said. “We do not want imagery representing us that could be mistaken to be associated with any injustice, and to that end, the council voted to retire the image of the man on the horse. The term “rebel” didn’t elicit the same response (as the image) from current students. In recent years, BCHS has been filled with slogans connoting a rebellious spirit in support of an important cause, such as “Rebels against Epilepsy,” “Rebels against Cancer,” “Rebels against Bullying” or “Be Kind, Be a Rebel.” You can fill it in with any injustice or positive cause — we want our students to stand for what is just. This change is something that clarifies our intentions of wanting all students to be successful.”

Eli Edwards, a sophomore English teacher at BCHS and a member of the SBDM council, said he voted for the removal of the logo due to it being hurtful to people. This was not his first stance against offensive images in the school.

“Earlier this summer, I voted to amend the school dress code to explicitly ban confederate apparel, and last night I was proud to vote to remove a logo that was hurtful to several students and members of our community,” Edwards said Friday. “Our task is to view issues like this through an educational lens and to affirm our mission statement that we want “to inspire and equip all students to be successful citizens through the self-disciplined pursuit of their unique abilities.”

Edwards said this is a symbolic first step, and he is optimistic that BCHS is welcoming to all students.

“I unequivocally affirm that black lives matter, and I know BCHS is receptive to any thoughts on how we create a better learning environment for all. I am thankful for all the input I received from students, alumni, fellow staff members, and taxpayers. Now starts the task of defining what it means to be a BCHS Rebel, which includes being a compassionate student who treats everyone with respect and stands up for injustice.”

Wade said no discussion has been held about a new logo.

“We haven’t talked at length about looking for a new logo, just the desire to remove the man on the horse. Students may choose to keep the ‘B’ as the logo or to adopt something else. We will continue the conversation,” Wade said.

Replacing the logo will be a phased approach, according to Wade, who said it will begin with updating digital assets, followed by a move toward replacing physical ones. Wade and his team are assessing the breadth and location of physical assets, and will use that information to put together a plan that includes timelines and costs for replacement.

Asked if the Boyle County School Board could override any decision on the removal of the logo, Wade said the decision has been left in the hands of individual schools in the past.

“We are fortunate to have a great relationship with the board of education and to have the same goals in mind,” he said. “Each school in our district has either adopted or updated a mascot over the years, and our board views that as a school-level decision. If a decision requires a considerable amount of funding, we would seek involvement from the board.”

With the logo decision made, the council has also talked about the school’s “Rebel” mascot. There have been community petitions both in favor of the mascot and against it.

“Yes, we’ve discussed the Rebel nickname to some degree, but since current students had more of a negative reaction to the logo of the man on the horse than the name, my recommendation was to change the logo,” Wade said. “There are members of the public speaking out on both sides, but we’re most concerned with how our current students feel. We hope to continue talking with them about this and other important topics.”

The Boyle County Board of Education’s next scheduled meeting is Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Boyle County Middle School cafeteria. Attempts to reach board members for comment were not successful as of press time.