FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Besides voting to support a charter school during their meeting Monday night (Sept. 28), the Fort Smith School Board once ended up voting once again voting on whether to keep the Rebel nickname at Southside High School.
Twelve Fort Smith residents addressed the issue, Joey McCutchen, who has been against the change since the beginning, was one of them.
"I think this sends a message to our community and to our society that we have got to be engaged," he said. "We have got to be engaged in our republic or we lose our rights."
McCutchen said he wanted the board to take a second look at what getting rid of the Rebel mascot means.
"To be offended is the price of liberty, and this was about freedom tonight on many different levels, and we are offended by a lot in our society, but if every time we are offended, we give up a right, we will not have rights," McCutchen said.
Kelcey Thompson also spoke in front of the board to defend their previous decision to get rid of the Southside's "Dixie" fight song and mascot.
"It seemed like it was a redundant thing," Thompson said. "We have already voted on it once, on letting the mascot go, yet people are not wanting to let go of a name that clearly cannot coincide with a mascot, they coincide.”
Thompson said her children go to Southside and do not want to participate in school activities because they do not want to be the Rebels.
"I think that if my children go to a school, it should reflect minorities and majorities at the same time to bring us together," she said. "I mean, your mascot is what is supposed to unify your school. It is not supposed to rip it apart."
Wade Gilkey, who was voted in as a new school board member Sept. 15, made a motion to adopt Rebels as a nickname while allowing the mascot committee to choose a different mascot. The vote ended with a three to three tie, which means it failed, but the issue could be brought up again in the future.
Gilkey and Bill Hanesworth, who is also a new board member, along with David Hunton, voted in favor of saving the Rebel name.
As for the charter school, it will be up to the Arkansas Board of Education to give final approval.