Fort Smith School Board Takes Second Vote On Southside Rebels Name

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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.

6 comments

  • arnold fudpucker

    “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.” ???????
    Besides being a confusing statement from Thompson it is in error as well. The board cloistered themselves and voted on this subject not the public. The public voted their displeasure by throwing out two of the board members for excluding the public.
    It appears most of the people want to keep their Rebel identity. Many things offend many people yet they seem to be able to go on without all the whining. If Thompson’s children choose not to participate in the school activities then that is their prerogative. It isn’t fair to continually deny others who feel equally strongly.

  • Susan Brodie

    They could keep the rebel name with a different mascot, although I don’t know what mascot would go with a rebel name unless they came up with one. Since Northside is their biggest rivalry, I think it would be fun to have a mascot that would challenge a Grizzly, although don’t know what could challenge one except a tiger or lion, & those mascots are already in use in the city & state. They could have a football player mascot, that would work.

  • parr1948

    Thanks to Mr. Gilkey and Mr. Hanesworth, as well as Dr. Hunton for voting with the majority of citizens to keep the Rebel name. I am amazed that a word (Rebel) that wasn’t offensive in 1963 is now offensive. If we continue to be bullied by special interest groups to force us into change to meet their agenda, it is only a matter of time before an animal activist group will determine that the grizzle bear is being demeaned in some way and force Northside to change its mascot.

    • Dyer Rhodes

      Students of TODAY Don’t Know How Fun It Was In The 70’s…. Students on their way to School would get a dozen eggs then stand on B Street waiting for someone from Southside drive by honking their horn and FLYING THE STARS AND BARS.. We would egg their car; if they weren’t driving to fast when they got on B Street; someone would stand on the street so they had to stop; then we’d would egg them.. One year someone from Southside climbed the Flag Pole in front of Northside; tied the chain off on top and put up a Confederate Flag.. They had to get the Fire Dept out to get the Flag down and the chain…

  • cultureissueconfirmed

    When will the Fart Smith school district board meet on climbing out of the bottom of the education based rankings? You’re a school, start acting like it.

    P.S who cares what your sports logo is, you’re terrible at that too.

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