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Ritchie County addresses high school mascot concerns

HARRISVILLE — Ritchie County is looking to make an official mascot for Ritchie County High School that goes along with the history of the school and community after a few alumni came forward asking for the change of their Rebel mascot.

During this week’s board of education meeting, superintendent Jim Brown said a few people spoke on the issue along with another alumus who felt the mascot should stay the same.

The alumni who spoke about changing the mascot felt it was a negative connotation because it could be viewed as referring to the Confederacy.

“It has resurfaced in the past and I think it goes back to the fact that when you take in isolation the name ‘rebels,’ (it) holds a lot of different meaning to other people,” Brown said. “I don’t want to minimize these gentlemen’s concerns. I don’t want to minimize anyone’s opinion. I think it’s important that we listen to our citizens of Ritchie County to make sure we reflect our school system and Ritchie County.”

The rebel name came about around 20 years ago when there was controversy over the consolidation of the schools, with the rebel serving as the symbol of the decision to form the one high school.

During the meeting, board president Dr. Torie Jackson “provided a statement that said they did not find a problem with the rebel being the name of our mascot. (It’s) nothing tied to the Confederacy or racism,” Brown said.

It was decided to keep the blue and gray colors and the rebel mascot name.

The mascot itself was never trademarked and never had an original design. Brown said folks took it upon themselves to create the character of what looks to be a Civil War soldier.

“We need to identify what our true mascot is and what it stands for,” Brown said.

With the main focus on student re-entry in the fall, Brown said he does not anticipate coming up with a new mascot in the immediate future.

“The mascot has morphed. There are multiple variations out there and there are some that do not reflect the original,” Brown said. “We want to make sure that we do have in place to reflect what everyone believes here in Ritchie County.”

Candice Black can be reached at cblack@newsandsentinel.com.

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